Battery (crime)

Battery (crime)

Battery is a term used by the common law jurisdictions, which involves an injury or other contact upon the person of another in a manner likely to cause bodily harm.

United States

At common law, simple battery is a misdemeanor and the elements of the offense are:

* An unlawful application of force;

* To the person of another;

* Resulting in either bodily injury or an offensive touching.

The prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. The common law elements serve as a basic template, but individual jurisdictions may alter them and they may vary slightly from state to state.

Under modern statutory schemes, battery is often broken down into gradations for the purposes of determining the severity of punishment. For example:

*"Simple battery" may include "any" form of non-consensual, harmful or insulting contact, regardless of the injury caused. Criminal battery requires an "intent" to inflict an injury on another, as distinguished from a tortious battery.
*"Sexual battery" may be defined as non-consensual touching of the intimate parts of another.
*"Family violence battery" may be limited in its scope between persons within a certain degree of relationship: statutes with respect to this offense have been enacted in response to increasing awareness of the problem of domestic violence.
*"Aggravated battery" is generally regarded as a serious offense of felony grade, involving the loss of the victim's limb or some other type of permanent disfigurement of the victim. As successor to the common law crime of mayhem, this is sometimes subsumed in the definition of aggravated assault.

In some jurisdictions, battery has recently been constructed to include directing bodily secretions at another person without their permission. In some jurisdictions this automatically is considered aggravated battery.

In some jurisdictions, the charge of criminal battery also requires evidence of a mental state ("mens rea").

Distinction between battery and assault

As a first approximation to the distinction between battery and assault:
* the overt behavior of an assault might be A advancing upon B by chasing after him and swinging a fist at his head, while
* that of an act of battery might be A actually striking B.

Battery requires (1) a volitional act (2) that results in a harmful or offensive contact with another person (3) committed with the intent to cause a harmful or offensive contact or with a reckless disregard as to whether such contact will result. Assault is an attempted battery or the act of intentionally placing a person in apprehension of a harmful or offensive contact with their person.

England and Wales

In the law of England and Wales, battery is not graded, although there are separate offences of an assault occasioning actual bodily harm and infliction of grievous bodily harm. Battery consists merely in unlawfully touching another (thus no particular "injury" is necessary). The offence is at common law ( [ s.39 Criminal Justice Act 1988] only provides for court jurisdiction and sentencing). It is to be distinguished from an assault where the victim is caused to "apprehend" the immediate commission of a battery. English law also does not recognise any offence of sexual battery, rather having the offence of sexual assault which is the non-consensual touching of another in a sexual manner( [ s. 3 Sexual Offences Act 2003] ). There is no separare offence relating to incidents of domestic violence, except in the case of death where the offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult may have been committed ( [ s. 5 Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004] ).

Under English law, a battery has only been committed if the correct "mens rea" can be proven. In the case of battery, the "mens rea", or fault element, of the offence is intention or recklessness (see "R v. Venna [1976] QB 421").A person acts intentionally in respect of a result when it is his purpose to bring it about or if he foresees that the result is a "virtually certain" consequence of his action and nonetheless acts (see "R v. Woollin [1998] 4 All ER 103", although this decision specifically applies to the law of murder, it is generally accepted that this definition of intention applies throughout the criminal law).A person acts recklessly in respect of a result when he is aware of a risk that the result will occur if he acts and does so act where no reasonable person would (see "R v. Cunningham [1957] 2 QB 396").

ee also

*Actual bodily harm
*Grievous bodily harm
*Beating up

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