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Can those accused of domestic violence sue for defamation?

This week a Los Angeles comedian revealed on social media that she had been in an abusive relationship, and that she would no longer refrain from talking about the abuse either online or onstage. The woman's Instagram post contained photos of her bruised arms and legs as evidence of the abuse she said she endured over the course of the relationship. While the comedian has received and outpouring of support, one might also wonder about the fate of the accused in a situation involving false accusations.

Even if domestic violence charges are ultimately proven to be false in any given case, public accusations on social media can cause damage to a person's reputation and standing in a community. And some who have been on the receiving end of such accusations have sued for defamation. 

Sean Penn, for example, recently filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels, creator of the TV show, 'Empire,' for a statement Daniels made implying that Penn had abused his then-wife, Madonna. Madonna has since come out in support of Penn, denying the rumor that Penn had struck her with a baseball bat in 1987. 

At the same time, defamation civil lawsuits can be costly, and even if you win it can be difficult to collect damages. For people who have the kind of money that Sean Penn does, a defamation lawsuit could be beneficial. For other people, taking this kind of action may require extra consideration. 

Whether you file a defamation suit or not, if you've been accused of domestic violence you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights and provide you with a strong defense against the charges you face. 

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