Battery

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
INDEX
FREE EXCERPT

Page 503

At common law, an intentional unpermitted act causing harmful or offensive contact with the "person" of another.

Battery is concerned with the right to have one's body left alone by others.

Battery is both a tort and a crime. Its essential element, harmful or offensive contact, is the same in both areas of the law. The main distinction between the two categories lies in the penalty imposed. A defendant sued for a tort is civilly liable to the plaintiff for damages. The punishment for criminal battery is a fine, imprisonment, or both. Usually battery is prosecuted as a crime only in cases involving serious harm to the victim.

Elements

The following elements must be proven to establish a case for battery: (1) an act by a defendant; (2) an intent to cause harmful or offensive contact on the part of the defendant; and (3) harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff.

The Act The act must result in one of two forms of contact. Causing any physical harm or injury to the victim?such as a cut, a burn, or a bullet wound?could constitute battery, but actual injury is not required. Even though there is no apparent bruise following harmful contact,

Page 504

the defendant can still be guilty of battery; occurrence of a physical illness subsequent to the contact may also be actionable. The second type of contact that may constitute battery causes no actual physical harm but is, instead, offensive or insulting to the victim. Examples include spitting in someone's face or offensively touching someone against his or her will.

Touching the person of someone is defined as including not only contacts with the body, but also with anything closely connected with the body, such as clothing or an item carried in the person's hand. For example, a battery may be committed by intentionally knocking a hat off someone's head or knocking a glass out of some-one's hand.

Intent Although the contact must be intended, there is no requirement that the defendant intend to harm or injure the victim. In TORT LAW, the intent must be either specific intent?the contact was specifically intended?or general intent?the defendant was substantially certain that the act would cause the contact. The intent element is satisfied in CRIMINAL LAW when the act is done with an intent to injure or with criminal negligence?failure to use care to avoid criminal consequences. The intent for criminal law is also present when...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP