Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Battery (crime)

Battery (crime)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Battery (crime)'
Start a new discussion about 'Battery (crime)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Battery is a criminal offense
Offense (law)
In law, an offence is a violation of the criminal law .In England and Wales, as well as in Hong Kong the term "offence" means the same thing as, and is interchangeable with, the term "crime"....

 involving unlawful physical contact, distinct from assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 which is the fear of such contact.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, criminal battery, or simply battery, is the use of force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact. It is a specific common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

, although the term is used more generally to refer to any unlawful offensive physical contact with another person, and may be a misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

 or a felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

, depending on the circumstances. Battery was defined at common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

 as "any unlawful touching of the person of another by the aggressor himself, or by a substance put in motion by him." In most cases, battery is now governed by statute, and its severity is determined by the law of the specific jurisdiction.

Generally


Specific rules regarding battery vary among different jurisdictions, but some elements remain constant across jurisdictions. Battery generally requires that:
  1. an offensive touching or contact is made upon the victim, instigated by the actor; and
  2. the actor intends or knows that his action will cause the offensive touching.


Under the Model Penal Code
Model Penal Code
The Model Penal Code is a statutory text which was developed by the American Law Institute in 1962. The Chief Reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler. The current form of the MPC was last updated in 1981. The purpose of the MPC was to stimulate and assist legislatures in making an effort to...

 and in some jurisdictions, there is battery when the actor acts recklessly without specific intent of causing an offensive contact. Battery is typically classified as either simple or aggravated. Although battery typically occurs in the context of physical altercations, it may also occur under other circumstances, such as in medical cases where a doctor performs a non-consented medical procedure.

Russia


There is an offence which could be (loosely) described as battery in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Article 116 http://www.consultant.ru/popular/ukrf/10_24.html#p1236 of the Russian Criminal Code
Russian Criminal Code
The Russian Criminal Code is the prime source of Law of the Russian Federation concerning criminal offences. The previous Criminal Code of the Russian Federation came into force on 1 January 1997. Moreover, on the 8 January President Yeltsin signed the Criminal Correctional Code to regulate the...

 provides that battery or similar violent actions which cause pain are an offence.

England and Wales


Battery is an offence under the law of England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

.

Battery involves unlawfully touching another person (this does not include everyday knocks and jolts to which people silently consent as the result of crowds). No physical injury is necessary. Battery is distinguished from the offence of common assault
Common assault
Common assault was an offence under the common law of England, and has been held now to be a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who causes another person to apprehend the immediate use of unlawful violence by the defendant. It was thought to include battery...

, where the victim is caused to apprehend the immediate commission of a battery.

The terms "battery" and "beat" are not normally used (if at all) in statutory provisions creating offences of aggravated assault. A former exception to this was section 43 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861
Offences Against The Person Act 1861
The Offences against the Person Act 1861 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated provisions related to offences against the person from a number of earlier statutes into a single Act...

 (aggravated assault or battery on a female or a boy under 14). The term "assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

" in such provisions generally includes battery.

There is no offence called "sexual battery", but the offence of sexual assault involves the non-consensual sexual touching of another.

There is no separate 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 a 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 (fault element) can be proven. In the case of battery, the mens rea of the offence is intention or recklessness (see R v. Venna [1976] QB 421). A person acts intentionally in terms of a result when his purpose is to cause it and he may be held to act intentionally if he foresees that the result is a virtually certain consequence of his action and he 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 intent applies throughout the criminal law). A person acts recklessly in terms of a result when he is aware of the risk that the result will occur if he acts and he does so act where no reasonable person would (see R v. Cunningham [1957] 2 QB 396).
Whether it is a statutory offence

In DPP v. Taylor, DPP v. Little [1992] 1 QB 645, 95 Cr.App.R. 28, it was held that battery is a statutory offence, contrary to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. This decision was criticised and in Haystead v. DPP 164 JP 396, DC, the Divisional court expressed the obiter opinion that battery remains a common law offence.
Mode of trial and sentence

In England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

, it is a summary offence
Summary offence
A summary offence is a criminal act in some common law jurisdictions that can be proceeded with summarily, without the right to a jury trial and/or indictment .- United States :...

. However, where section 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 applies, it can be an additional charge on an indictment
Indictment
An indictment , in the common-law legal system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. In jurisdictions that maintain the concept of felonies, the serious criminal offence is a felony; jurisdictions that lack the concept of felonies often use that of an indictable offence—an...

. It is usually tried summarily.

However if it is tried, it is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale
Standard scale
The standard scale is a system whereby financial criminal penalties in legislation have maximum levels set against a standard scale. Then, when inflation makes it necessary to increase the levels of the fines the legislators need to modify only the scale rather than each individual piece of...

, or both.

See Crown Prosecution Service Sentencing Manual for case law on sentencing (despite the title of the page, the guidance applies to battery as well as common assault). Relevant cases are:
  • R v. Nottingham Crown Court
    Nottingham Crown Court
    Nottingham Crown Court, or more formally the High Court of Justice and Crown Court, Nottingham is a Crown Court and High Court of Justice in Nottingham, England.-Description:...

     ex parte Director of Public Prosections [1996] 1 Cr.App.R. (S.) 283
  • R v. Dunn [2003] 2 Cr.App.R. (S.) 90

Scotland


There is no distinct offence of battery in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. The offence of assault includes acts that could be described as battery.

United States


At common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

, simple battery is a misdemeanor
Misdemeanor
A misdemeanor is a "lesser" criminal act in many common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished much less severely than felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences...

. The prosecutor
Prosecutor
The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

 must prove all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
  1. an unlawful application of force
  2. to the person of another
  3. resulting in either bodily injury or an offensive touching.


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 divided into grades that determine 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
    Battery (tort)
    At common law, battery is the tort of intentionally and voluntarily bringing about an unconsented harmful or offensive contact with a person or to something closely associated with them . Unlike assault, battery involves an actual contact...

    .
  • Sex
    Sex
    In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

    ual battery
    may be defined as non-consensual touching of the intimate parts of another. At least in Florida, "Sexual battery means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object": See section 794.011http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/QualifyingOffenses.jsp#1130.
  • Family-violence battery may be limited in its scope between persons within a certain degree of relationship: statutes for this offense have been enacted in response to increasing awareness of the problem of domestic violence
    Domestic violence
    Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

    .
  • Aggravated battery generally is seen as a serious offense of felony
    Felony
    A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

     grade, involving the loss of the victim's limb or some other type of permanent disfigurement. As successor to the common-law crime of mayhem
    Mayhem (crime)
    Mayhem is a criminal offence consisting of the intentional maiming of another person.Under the common law of England and Wales and other common law jurisdictions, it originally consisted of the intentional and wanton removal of a body part that would handicap a person's ability to defend himself in...

    , this is sometimes subsumed in the definition of aggravated assault.

Jurisdictional differences


In some jurisdictions, battery has recently been constructed to include directing bodily secretions at another person without his or her permission. Some of those jurisdictions automatically elevate such a battery to the charge of aggravated battery. In some jurisdictions, the charge of criminal battery also requires evidence of a mental state (mens rea
Mens rea
Mens rea is Latin for "guilty mind". In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, which means "the act does not make a person guilty...

). The terminology used to refer to a particular offense can also vary by jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions, such as New York, refer to what, under the common law, would be battery as assault, and then use another term for the crime that would have been assault, such as menacing.

Distinction between battery and assault


The overt behavior
Actus reus
Actus reus, sometimes called the external element or the objective element of a crime, is the Latin term for the "guilty act" which, when proved beyond a reasonable doubt in combination with the mens rea, "guilty mind", produces criminal liability in the common law-based criminal law jurisdictions...

 of an assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 might be Person A advancing upon Person B by chasing after him and swinging a fist toward his head. The overt behavior of battery might be A actually striking B.

Battery requires (1) a volitional act that (2) results in a harmful or offensive contact with another person and (3) is committed for the purpose of causing a harmful or offensive contact or under circumstances that render such contact substantially certain to occur 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 his or her person.

In some places, assault is the threat of violence against another while aggravated assault is the threat with the clear and present ability and willingness to carry it out. Likewise, battery is undesired touching of another, while aggravated battery is touching of another with or without a tool or weapon with attempt to harm or restrain.

See also

  • Assault
    Assault
    In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

     or common assault
    Common assault
    Common assault was an offence under the common law of England, and has been held now to be a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is committed by a person who causes another person to apprehend the immediate use of unlawful violence by the defendant. It was thought to include battery...

  • Assault (tort)
    Assault (tort)
    In common law, assault is the tort of acting intentionally, that is with either general or specific intent, causing the reasonable apprehension of an immediate harmful or offensive contact. Because assault requires intent, it is considered an intentional tort, as opposed to a tort of negligence...

  • Battery (tort)
    Battery (tort)
    At common law, battery is the tort of intentionally and voluntarily bringing about an unconsented harmful or offensive contact with a person or to something closely associated with them . Unlike assault, battery involves an actual contact...

  • Right of self-defense