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Capsule Summary


A. Definition:  Battery is the intentional infliction of a harmful or offensive bodily contact.

Example:  A intentionally punches B in the nose. A has committed battery.

B. Intent:   It is not necessary that D desires to physically harm P. D has the necessary intent for battery if it is the case either that: (1) D intended to cause a harmful or offensive bodily contact; or (2) D intended to cause an imminent apprehension on P’s part of a harmful or offensive bodily contact.

Example 1:  D shoots at P, intending to hit him with the bullet. D has the necessary intent for battery.

Example 2:  D shoots at P, intending to miss P, but also intending to make P think that P would be hit. D has the intent needed for battery (i.e., the “intent to commit an assault” suffices as the intent for battery).

C. Harmful or offensive contact:  If the contact is “harmful” – i.e., it causes pain or bodily damage -this qualifies. But battery also covers contacts which are merely “offensive, i.e., damaging to a “reasonable sense of dignity.

Example:  D spits on P. Even if P is not “harmed” in the sense of being caused physical pain or physical injury, a battery has occurred because a person of average sensitivity in P’s position would have her dignity offended.

D. P need not be aware:  It is not necessary that P have actual awareness of the contact at the time it occurs. (Example: D kisses P while she is asleep. D has committed a battery.)

E. Contact beyond level consented to:  Battery can occur where P consents to a certain level of bodily contact, but D goes beyond the consented-to level of contact. At that point, the consent becomes invalid, and battery results. Look for this “beyond the consented-to level of contact” scenario when the facts involve either a sporting event or a medical/surgical procedure.

Example:  In a pick-up ice hockey game in a park, P and D are skirmishing for the puck near the side wall of the rink. D intentionally delivers a hard body check that throws P into the wall, and the collision between P and the wall badly injures P. D sues P for battery.

If D intentionally delivered a body check (a body contact) that went beyond the level or type of contact D knew or should have known P was impliedly consenting to, then it would constitute battery.


A. Definition:  Assault is the intentional causing of an apprehension of harmful or offensive contact.

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