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The intentional commission of a wrongful act, absent justification, with the intent to cause harm to others; conscious violation of the law that injures another individual; a mental state indicating a disposition in disregard of social duty and a tendency toward malfeasance.

In its legal application, the term malice is comprehensive and applies to any legal act that is committed intentionally without just cause or excuse. It does not necessarily imply personal hatred or ill feelings, but rather, it focuses on the mental state that is in reckless disregard of the law in general and of the legal rights of others. An example of a malicious act would be committing the tort of slander by labeling a nondrinker an alcoholic in front of his or her employees.

When applied to the crime of murder, malice is the mental condition that motivates one individual to take the life of another individual without just cause or provocation.

In the context of the first amendment, public officials and public figures must satisfy a standard that proves actual malice in order to recover for libel or slander. The standard is based upon the seminal case of new york times v. sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964), where the Supreme Court held that public officials and public figures cannot be awarded damages unless they prove that the person accused of making the false statement did so with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of the statement. Demonstrating malice in this context does not require the plaintiff to show that the person uttering the statement showed ill will or hatred toward the public official or public figure.

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malice, in law, an intentional violation of the law of crimes or torts that injures another person. Malice need not involve a malignant spirit or the definite intent to do harm. To prove malice, it is sufficient to show the willful doing of an injurious act without what is considered a lawful excuse. A malicious state of mind may be inferred from reckless and wanton acts that a normal person should know might produce or threaten injury to others. Malice aforethought is a technical element of murder. In libel and slander cases, malice consists of publishing material out of spite or with evil intent, with a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity (see New York Times Company v. Sullivan).

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Malice ★★½ 1993 (R)

In a sleepy little college town, strange things sure do happen. Too bad rumpled college dean Andy Safian (Pullman) didn't see “Pacific Heights.” If he did, he would know that sometimes roommates are more trouble than they're worth, even if renovation on that old Victorian is getting expensive. Routine thriller throws out an inventive twist to keep things moving, but manages to be fairly predictable anyway. 107m/C VHS, DVD . Alec Baldwin, Nicole Kidman, Bill Pullman, Bebe Neuwirth, Anne Bancroft, George C. Scott, Peter Gallagher, Josef Sommer, Gwyneth Paltrow; D: Harold Becker; W: Aaron Sorkin, Scott Frank; C: Gordon Willis; M: Jerry Goldsmith.

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mal·ice / ˈmaləs/ • n. the intention or desire to do evil; ill will: I bear no malice toward anybody. ∎  Law wrongful intention, esp. as increasing the guilt of certain offenses.

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malice XIII. — (O)F. — L. malitia, f. malus bad; see MAL-.
So malicious XIII. — OF. malicius (mod. -ieux). — L. malitiōsus.

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malice bear malice the desire to harm someone, especially through a sense of personal injury.
malice aforethought in law, the intention to kill or harm which is held to distinguish unlawful killing from murder.