A friend of ours stole money out of the joint bank account that I have with my fiancée. He then told the authorities, as well as my fiancée, that I was with him, gave him the card and pin number, and even gave him permission to take the money out. This, of coarse, is false. When the video surveillance tapes show that I am telling the truth, can I sue him for defamation of character and slander?
Slander is the defamation of character by spoken word. Although the specifics of the law may vary depending on your state, the general definition is that a person makes a false public statement that damages your reputation. This statement usually must be extreme, and must be intended to cause you harm. From what you say, it is unlikely that your friend’s statement rises to the level of slander. Most likely, your friend will say that he merely told the police and your fiancée that you helped him take the money out because he wanted to avoid theft charges. It was probably not intended to harm you or
damage your reputation.
You may, however, be able to pursue a tort against your friend for conversion. This claim would be in addition to any criminal prosecution for theft he may face, and would allow you to recoup the money that he stole, as well as cover any expenses caused by his theft (e.g. late fees or overdraft fees). Depending on the amount stolen, this claim could be filed in small claims court, which would reduce the costs to you.
Consulting an attorney who specializes in civil litigation can provide you with recommendations that are specific to the facts in your case.