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).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.