Malice Definition

A willful or intentional state of mind, in which the actor intends to bring about an injury or wrongdoing. 1) In criminal law, malice can be evident by the act itself, as when someone purposefully injures someone else. Murder requires proof of malicious intent, and first-degree murder requires "malice aforethought." 2) In a defamation lawsuit (libel or slander), the jury's finding that the defendant acted with malice may increase the plaintiff's damages. In order for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit, he or she must prove malice on the part of the defendant. (See also: malice aforethought)