2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 942. Crimes against reputation, privacy and civil liberties.
(1) Whoever with intent to defame communicates any defamatory matter to a 3rd person without the consent of the person defamed is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(2) Defamatory matter is anything which exposes the other to hatred, contempt, ridicule, degradation or disgrace in society or injury in the other's business or occupation.
(3) This section does not apply if the defamatory matter was true and was communicated with good motives and for justifiable ends or if the communication was otherwise privileged.
(4) No person shall be convicted on the basis of an oral communication of defamatory matter except upon the testimony of 2 other persons that they heard and understood the oral statement as defamatory or upon a plea of guilty or no contest.
The defense of conditional privilege applies to criminal defamation, but the defense is not absolute and may be forfeited if abused. State v. Gilles, 173 Wis. 2d 101, 496 N.W.2d 133 (Ct. App. 1992).
Perjury committed in a judicial proceeding is absolutely privileged under sub. (3). The sanction for perjury is under the perjury statute, s. 946.31, and not under the defamation statute. State v. Cardenas-Hernandez, 219 Wis. 2d 516, 579 N.W.2d 678 (1998), 96-3605.