Malice Law and Legal Definition

Malice in law is the intent, without justification excuse or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another. Malice means the wrongful intention and includes all types of intent that law deems to be wrongful. Legally speaking any act done with a wrong intention is done maliciously.

An example of a malicious act would be committing the tort of slander by calling a nondrinker an alcoholic in front of all his or her employees. With regard to crime of murder, malice is the mental condition which motivates a person to kill another without just cause or provocation. In civil cases a finding of malice allows greater damages.

Malice can be express or implied. Express malice is the intent to kill or seriously injure arising from a deliberate, rational mind. On the other hand implied malice is that which can be inferred from a person's conduct.

Example of a State Statute defining Malice:

As used in California Penal Code, ‘Malice’ means the following:

Cal Pen Code § 7

4. The words "malice" and "maliciously" import a wish to vex, annoy, or injure another person, or an intent to do a wrongful act, established either by proof or presumption of law.

Cal Pen Code § 188 explains express and implied malice

Such malice may be express or implied. It is express when there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature. It is implied, when no considerable provocation appears, or when the circumstances attending the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

When it is shown that the killing resulted from the intentional doing of an act with express or implied malice as defined above, no other mental state need be shown to establish the mental state of malice aforethought. Neither an awareness of the obligation to act within the general body of laws regulating society nor acting despite such awareness is included within the definition of malice.