Elements of a Battery


Battery is considered an intent offense and therefore, it means that the plaintiff does not need particular harm that will lead from the unwanted contact but merely an act of unwanted contact. This also refers to gross negligence or even recklessness as the required intent or mens rea to become battery.

The policy on the transferred intent is applicable, which means that when an individual intends to hit or strike the other person, but the person was able to avoid being attacked and causing to blow or hit a third person, both assault which is against the second person and a battery which is against the third person have happened, and therefore both occurrences are criminal and civil law.

This is essential in determining battery from assault. A battery entails actual physical contact while an assault is considered an incomplete battery. It means that an individual makes an assault if he/she intentionally or purposely puts the person in apprehension of an impending battery. Basically, when a person intends an assault only, which is to cause apprehension of an imminent battery, and offensive contact actually happens, the person commits a battery and at the same time, an assault.

It is also vital in determining accidental conduct. When an individual brutally crashes into another passenger on a moving bus, there is no liability, however, when on the same us, there is a slightest purpose of physical contact to another person which is offensive, harmful, and non-consensual like reaching out and touching the thigh of a woman, then battery occurs. But if there was only an intended assault like a person gestures towards the other person in a threatening way and the person trips and actually slams into another person, there is an assault and battery that happen.


Non-consensual contact may be done either with a person or the extended personality of the person. It means that when a person leans forward and snatches the jewelry necklace from the other person, a battery happens, although the first person did not actually touch the neck of the second person. If this act was followed with a purpose to cause the other person to apprehend an impending violent snatching of the necklace, there is an assault and a battery that happen.

If the wrongdoer only intends an assault which caused the other person to apprehend an impending violent snatching of the necklace but has no purpose of actually completing the violent snatching, but his hand made a physical contact with, and actually snatched the necklace, there is an assault and a battery that happen. It means that when, in the process of physically gesturing to violently snatch the necklace, physical contact happens and the necklace is snatched from the other person’s neck, then a battery occurs.

The rule of tort on “extended personality” is used to both civil and criminal battery. For instance, if the person threatens to spit into the cup of coffee of the other person, which obviously an offensive act, and then proceeds to actually does it, both criminal and civil battery occur. There was a case that involved a Texas hotel manager who was found guilty of battery when he pulled off the dinner plate of a patron in a “loud and offensive manner,” although the contact has not resulted to any physical harm to the patron.


The plaintiff or complainant in a case for battery does not need to show an actual physical injury, instead, the plaintiff should prove that there is an illegal and without permission contact with his/her person or property in an offensive way. This is in itself deemed as injurious. In the case of the Texas hotel manager mentioned above, the harm can be offensive instead of physical but it is equally has the value of compensation under the law.


When there is a palpable harm, whether it is physical, emotional, or monetary, all of the elements of battery are present, and there is an aggrieved party or person, then, the aggrieved person can file charges. In criminal law, the state files the charges for battery, and the victim becomes the witness for the prosecution. Criminal court centers on the guilt or innocence of the defendant or basically, there are no damages available to the victim. But, when harm is serious, he/she may qualify for an assistance known as “victims’ compensation fund.”

Generally, the victim of a battery can file civil lawsuit from the same incident where the defendant is sued with the tort of battery. In this case, the damages are basically compensatory, which is monetary award, which is a special relief like injunctive or punitive. There is no need for substantial harm but it must be palpable harm. Compensatory damages may either or both be monetary or non-monetary, which is emotional in nature, harm.

In cases of the necklace examples earlier, the plaintiff may ask for monetary damages to cover the following:

  • Physical harm (to the neck) where economic damages can be awarded for the medical bills, if there are, and non-economic damages for the pain and suffering, if there are
  • Property (the broken necklace)
  • Emotional harm resulted from the incident, where there is an apprehension of a battery; the embarrassment when it happened, and the like.

In case of transferred intent which involves an assault and battery, there may be two plaintiffs, namely the person who is the intended victim of the battery and sues for assault and the person who is actually and physically injured and who sues for battery.

With medical malpractice cases which involve unauthorized treatments or the absence of informed consent, the patient may file lawsuit for all the expenses and treatments/procedures related to the treatment received. This is true with several cases even when the patient completely benefited from the unauthorized treatment, even though this may need an argument as a mitigating aspect by the defense.

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