Battery

BATTERY
Battery, which requires physical contact with the victim, is broken down into three separate
elements: the defendant’s conduct, his mental state, and the harm done to the victim. Although
many statutes do not define battery with specificity, or even list these elements, it is a widely
recognized principle of law that each of them must be met.


Conduct
A defendant’s conduct in a case of battery encompasses the physical acts he performs in
committing the crime. Battery may be committed either by directly touching a person or
indirectly applying force to him. It is clear that intentionally striking someone should be
classified as a battery, but it is less clear that a battery charge should result from an injury not
directly caused by the defendant. The latter result is often reached by modern courts, however.
Consequently, one may commit a battery by causing injury through poisoning. One may also be
liable for directing another person to make a physical contact. Battery, therefore, may result
when a person is forced to touch something that is repulsive to him or when one is injured in a
dangerous situation intentionally created by the defendant. Additionally, if the other elements of
battery are present, some cases have held persons criminally responsible when neglect of a duty
to act causes injury to another—for example, when a lifeguard fails to warn swimmers of
dangerous undercurrents.


Mental state
A defendant is held to be culpable in a battery charge if he acts with either an intent to injure or
with criminal negligence. In some jurisdictions it is sufficient if he commits an unlawful act,
regardless of his intent. Culpability is apparent when one acts with intent to injure, but one is
usually not liable for committing a battery when he possesses no intent to injure. Hence, it is not
a battery to grab someone in order to rescue him or to prevent him from doing something
dangerous.


The use of criminal negligence to supply the requisite intent for battery is not always accepted,
for negligence is not normally sufficient to prove the mental state needed for the criminal act.
Some courts state that criminal negligence supplies the intent, thus equating this negligence with
a simple intent to injure. Other states have statutes that make battery a minor misdemeanour
when one acts in reckless disregard of the risk of causing injury to another.


If criminal negligence is held sufficient to warrant a charge of battery, the term negligence
requires definition. For criminal liability, more than ordinary lack of due care should be required.
Most jurisdictions defining batteries based on negligence require actions that create an
unreasonable and high risk of harm to others. Although there is no single definition, it is
generally accepted that the risk should be one a reasonable person would be clearly aware of,
even if the defendant does not perceive it. It may seem wrong to criminally punish someone for
harmful acts he does not intend.

Nevertheless, one should be responsible for actions that would
be recognized as harmful by most persons and that outrage and injure the general public.
In only a few jurisdictions is the unlawful-act standard applied to battery cases. The question of
intent is again applicable, in connection with both the injury and the act itself. One who is
consciously acting unlawfully should be responsible for the results of his actions, regardless of
his intent. However, if he is unaware that he is acting unlawfully, it is more difficult to argue that
criminal liability should automatically follow.

Some states have dealt with this problem by ruling that liability results if the act is bad in itself (malum in se) but not if it is simply prohibited
conduct (malum prohibitum); malum prohibited acts, however, may be sufficient if the defendant
is either criminally negligent or intends to cause injury.


Harm to the victim
The final element necessary for battery is the harmful result to the victim. This element is
satisfied by virtually any type of bodily injury; indeed, many states have statutes that permit any
offensive touching to qualify as a battery. Some cases have held that forcing a child to touch
parts of the defendant’s body created criminal responsibility, even when the defendant himself
did not do any actual touching. In such situations, the defendant is viewed as having caused the
act just as if he had touched the victim, since he initiated and controlled the situation, and the
victim felt personally violated by the defendant.


Aggravated battery
The crime of aggravated battery, punishable as a felony and specifically defined by statute, exists
in many states. Examples of such crimes are actions taken with intent to kill or to rape. Usually,
the defendant must have intended to cause the specific result; otherwise, the crime is considered
as a regular battery charge. Batteries based on criminal negligence are generally not considered
sufficiently egregious to warrant a felony charge. Where a defendant did not intend to commit a
felony, it seems unjust to convict him of the more serious charge.

Aishwarya Says:

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