The Law Dictionary demonstrates that the word "malice" itself is not just "ill will" but an "intentional" wrongful act against someone without a justified excuse, thereby defining "malicious intent." It is a violation of the law by someone that works to the prejudice of another person.
According to Donald v. Brown, malicious intent can also be defined as an evil motive stemming from spite or personal hatred resulting in culpable recklessness and a complete disregard of the rights of the person defamed. A criminal act can be done willfully but still be done without "malicious intent." Related legal terms include "express malice," "implied malice," "constructive malice" and "legal malice."