malice,n.1. The intent, without justification or excuse, to commit a wrongful act. 2. Reckless disregard of the law or of a person’s legal rights. 3. Ill will; wickedness of heart. • This sense is most typical in nonlegal contexts.

“Malice means in law wrongful intention. It includes any intent which the law deems wrongful, and which therefore serves as a ground of liability. Any act done with such an intent is, in the language of the law, malicious, and this legal usage has etymology in its favour. The Latin malitia means badness, physical or moral — wickedness in disposition or in conduct — not specifically or exclusively ill-will or malevolence; hence the malice of English law, including all forms of evil purpose, design, intent, or motive. [But] intent is of two kinds, being either immediate or ulterior, the ulterior intent being commonly distinguished as the motive. The term malice is applied in law to both these forms of intent, and the result is a somewhat puzzling ambiguity which requires careful notice. When we say that an act is done maliciously, we mean one of two distinct things. We mean either that it is done intentionally, or that it is done with some wrongful motive.” John Salmond, Jurisprudence 384 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

“[M]alice in the legal sense imports (1) the absence of all elements of justification, excuse or recognized mitigation, and (2) the presence of either (a) an actual intent to cause the particular harm which is produced or harm of the same general nature, or (b) the wanton and wilful doing of an act with awareness of a plain and strong likelihood that such harm may result…. The Model Penal Code does not use ‘malice’ because those who formulated the Code had a blind prejudice against the word. This is very regrettable because it represents a useful concept despite some unfortunate language employed at times in the effort to express it.” Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N.

Boyce, Criminal Law 860 (3d ed. 1982).

actual malice. 1. The deliberate intent to commit an injury, as evidenced by external circumstances. — Also termed express malice; malice in fact. Cf. implied malice. 2.Defamation. Knowledge (by the person who utters or publishes a defamatory statement) that a statement is false, or reckless disregard about whether the statement is true. • To prevail, a plaintiff who is a public official or public figure must overcome the defendant’s qualified privilege by proving the defendant’s actual malice. And for certain other types of claims, a plaintiff must prove actual malice to recover presumed or punitive damages. — Also termed New York Times malice; constitutional malice; common-law malice. See reckless disregard (2) under DISREGARD. [Cases:

Libel and Slander 51. C.J.S. Libel and Slander; Injurious Falsehood §§ 66, 105.]

common-law malice.See actual malice (2). constructive malice.See implied malice.

express malice. 1.Criminal law. The intent to kill or seriously injure arising from a deliberate, rational mind. [Cases: Assault and Battery 49; Homicide 529. C.J.S. Assault and Battery §§ 67, 71.] 2. See actual malice (1).3.Defamation. The bad-faith publication of defamatory material. [Cases: Libel and Slander 3, 51. C.J.S. Libel and Slander; Injurious Falsehood§§ 3, 44, 46, 66,


general malice.Malice that is necessary for any criminal conduct; malice that is not directed

at a specific person. Cf. particular malice.

implied malice.Malice inferred from a person’s conduct. — Also termed constructive malice;

legal malice; malice in law. Cf. actual malice (1).

malice in fact.See actual malice (1). particular malice.Malice that is directed at a particular person. — Also termed special malice.

transferred malice.Malice directed to one person or object but instead harming another in the way intended for the first. [Cases: Assault and Battery 49; Homicide 555. C.J.S. Assault and Battery §§ 67, 71.]

“[I]f A shoots at B intending to kill him, but the shot actually kills C, this is held to be murder of C. So also if A throws a stone at one window and breaks another, it is held to be malicious damage to the window actually broken. This doctrine, which is known as the doctrine of transferred malice, applies only where the harm intended and the harm done are of the same kind. If A throws a stone at a human being and unintentionally breaks a window, he cannot be convicted of malicious damage to the window.” John Salmond, Jurisprudence 382 (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

universal malice.The state of mind of a person who determines to take a life on slight

provocation, without knowing or caring who may be the victim.

[Blacks Law 8th]