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Battery Is An Intentional Tort And A Criminal Act

| Jan 20, 2014 | Criminal Defense |

Battery is the intentional touching or use of force by one person to another person. Battery is both a civil tort and a criminal act, but the standards that define the action in each are somewhat different.

Assault and battery are generally linked together because assault is the threat of the battery to come. Assault is a non-touching immediate threat, while battery is the actual contact. There are times when the battery is not preceded by any verbal threat. Offenders of battery can face a civil lawsuit and criminal charges.

Civil Battery

Civil battery is an intentional tort, unlike most torts, that are a result of carelessness or negligence. The standard for civil and criminal battery is the same, with the exception that criminal intent is necessary for criminal battery. There are three elements needed for the intentional tort of battery:

  • Intent, not criminal intent, but the intent to commit the act
  • Contact, non-consensual
  • Damage or Harm, not limited to physical harm

For the intentional tort of battery of occur, there has to be touching or contact without consent. It does not have to be touching with any intent to do wrong, just the fact that the touching was non-consensual, is all that is required

The tort of battery must have some type of damage or harm that was the direct result of the contact. In cases where there is very little harm, it will be difficult to persuade a jury to reward a settlement. However, is cases where the battery caused severe damage to the victim, they can be compensated for medical expenses, pain and suffering.

In the case of battery, the victim cannot build an imaginary cage around him or herself so that no one can touch them. This is an abusive use of the legal system. There is going to be incidental contact among people, which is not going to rise to the level of battery. People might touch in an elevator, or a movie line; that does not carry the requirement to cause harm.

Criminal Battery

Criminal battery is different from a civil battery tort in that it requires intent to do wrong, or mens rea (guilty mind). Simple battery is a misdemeanor, but if it is a repeat offense, it can be raised to a felony. In cases of domestic violence, the state will not drop the charges against the defendant, even if the victim requests the charges be dropped.

Aggravated battery has the same elements as criminal battery, but has an additional element of a weapon or is committed against a helpless victim, such as a child, an elderly person, or disabled person. Almost all aggravated battery is a felony.
The intentional tort case and the criminal case will happen separately, in two different courts, but can be tried simultaneously. The outcome in one court has nothing to do with the other case. Anyone who has a claim for battery or has been charged with battery needs an attorney with experience to assist him or her.

Call the professionals at The Kyle Law Firm today to set up a free consultation.