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MALICE Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

In criminal law. In its legal sense, this word does not simply mean ill will against a person, but signifies a wrongful act done intentionally, without just cause or excuse. Bromage v. Prosser, 4 Barn. & C. 255. A conscious violation of the law (or the prompting of the mind to commit it) which operates to the prejudice of another person. About as clear, comprehensive, and correct a definition as the authorities afford is that “malice is a condition of the mind which shows a heart regardless of social duty aud fatally bent on mischief, the existence of which is inferred from acts committed or words spoken.” Harris v. State, 8 Tex. App. 109. “Malice,” in its common acceptation, means ill will towards some person. In its legal sense, it applies to a wrongful act done intentionally, without legal justification or excuse. Dunn v. Hall, 1 Ind. 344. A man may do an act willfully, and yet be free of malice. But he cannot do an act maliciously without at the same time doing it willfully. The malicious doing of an act in- cludes the willful doing of it. Malice includes intent and will. State v. Bobbins. 06 Me. 328. For other definitions see Shannon v. Jones, 70 Tex. 141. 13 S. W. 477; Williams v. Williams. 20 Colo. 51. 37 Pac. 014; Smith v. Railroad Co., 87 Md. 48. 3S Atl. 1072; In re Freche (D. C.) 109 Fed. 621 ; Craft v. State, 3 Kan. 486; Lewis v. Chapman. 10 N. Y. 309; State v. Avery, 113 Mo. 475. 21 S. W. 193; State v. Witt. 34 Kan. 488. 8 Pac. 709; State v. Walker, 9 Houst. tDel.) 404, 33 Atl. 227; Cotton v. State. 32 Tex. 014; Com. v. Chance, 174 Mass. 245. 54 N. E. 551. 75 Am. St. Rep. 306. In the law of libel and slander. An evil intent or motive arising from spite or ill will; personal hatred or ill will; culpable recklessness or a willful and wanton disregard of the rights and interests of the per- ) MALICE son defamed. McDonald v. Brown, 23 R. I. 546, 51 Atl. 213, 58 L. R. A. 768, 91 Am. St. Rep. 659; Hearne v. De Young, 132 Cal. 357, 64 Pac. 576; Cherry v. Des Moines Leader, 114 Iowa, 298, 86 N. W. 323, 54 L R. A. 855, 89 Am. St. Rep. 365; Minter v. Bradstreet Co., 174 Mo. 444, 73 S. W. 668

TLD Example: The defense attorney successfully proved to the jury that his client acted without malice when he broke into the vacant cabin to escape the snow and freezing temperatures.


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