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Battery (crime)

This article is about the crime. For the tortious aspects nal Code provides that battery or similar violent actions
of battery, see Battery (tort). For other uses of the word which cause pain are an oence.
battery, see Battery.

2.2 United States

Battery is a criminal oense involving the unlawful physical acting upon a threat, distinct from assault which is the At common law, simple battery is a misdemeanor. The
act of creating apprehension of such contact.
prosecutor must prove all three elements beyond a reaIn the United States, criminal battery, or simply battery, sonable doubt:
is the use of force against another, resulting in harmful,
1. an unlawful application of force
oensive or sexual contact.[1] It is a specic common law
misdemeanor, although the term is used more generally
2. to the person of another
to refer to any unlawful oensive physical contact with
3. resulting in either bodily injury or an oensive
another person, and may be a misdemeanor or a felony,
depending on the circumstances. Battery was dened at
common law as any unlawful touching of the person of
another by the aggressor, or by a substance put in mo- The common-law elements serve as a basic template, but
tion by him.[2] In most cases, battery is now governed by individual jurisdictions may alter them, and they may vary
statutes, and its severity is determined by the law of the slightly from state to state.
specic jurisdiction.
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 nonconsensual harmful or insulting contact, regardless
of the injury caused. Criminal battery requires intent to inict an injury on another.

Specic rules regarding battery vary among dierent jurisdictions, but some elements remain constant across jurisdictions. Battery generally requires that:

Sexual battery may be dened 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 794.011.[4]

1. an oensive touch or contact is made upon the victim, instigated by the actor; and
2. the actor intends or knows that their action will cause
the oensive touching.

Family-violence battery may be limited in its scope

between persons within a certain degree of relationship: statutes for this oense have been enacted in
response to increasing awareness of the problem of
domestic violence.

Under the Model Penal Code and in some jurisdictions,

there is battery when the actor acts recklessly without
specic intent of causing an oensive contact. Battery
is typically classied 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 nonconsented medical procedure.


Aggravated battery generally is seen as a serious

oense of felony grade, involving the loss of the victims limb or some other type of permanent disgurement. As successor to the common-law crime of
mayhem, this is sometimes subsumed in the denition of aggravated assault. In Florida, Aggravated
Battery is the intentional commission of great bodily
harm.[5] Conversely, if there is no intent in Florida,
then it is felony battery which is a third degree felony
as opposed to a second degree felony in which aggravated battery is.

Specic countries

There is an oence which could be (loosely) described as

battery in Russia. Article 116[3] of the Russian Crimi1



In the state of Kansas battery is dened as follows:[6]

(a) Battery is:
(1) Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily
harm to another person; or
(2) intentionally causing physical contact with
another person when done in a rude, insulting
or angry manner.


The law on battery in Louisiana reads:[7]

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 oence 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 specically
applies to the law of murder, it is generally accepted that
this denition 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).

33. Battery dened

Battery is the intentional use of force or violence upon the person of another; or the intentional administration of a poison or other noxious liquid or substance to another.



Whether it is a statutory oence In DPP v. Taylor,

DPP v. Little [1992] 1 QB 645, 95 Cr App R 28, it was
held that battery is a statutory oence, contrary to section
39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. This decision was
criticised[9][10][11] and in Haystead v. DPP 164 JP 396,
DC,[12] the Divisional court expressed the obiter opinion
that battery remains a common law oence.

Therefore, whilst it may be a better view that battery and

Battery is not dened in the Canadian Criminal Code. assault have statutory penalties, rather than being statuInstead, the Code has an oense of assault, and assault tory oences, it is still the case that until review by a
higher court, DPP v Little is the preferred authority.[13]
causing bodily harm.


United Kingdom

Mode of trial and sentence In England and Wales, it

is a summary oence.[14] However, where section 40 of
2.4.1 England and Wales
the Criminal Justice Act 1988 applies, it can be an additional charge on an indictment. It is usually tried sumBattery is an oence under the law of England and Wales. marily.
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, where the victim is caused to
apprehend the immediate commission of a battery.

However, if it is tried, it is punishable with imprisonment

for a term not exceeding six months, or a ne not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.[14]

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).
The terms battery and beat are not normally used (if Relevant cases are:
at all) in statutory provisions creating oences of aggravated assault. A former exception to this was section 43
R v. Nottingham Crown Court ex parte Director of
of the Oences against the Person Act 1861 (aggravated
Public Prosections [1996] 1 Cr App R (S) 283
assault or battery on a female or a boy under 14). The
term "assault" in such provisions generally includes bat R v. Dunn [2003] 2 Cr App R (S) 90
There is no oence called sexual battery, but the offence of sexual assault involves the non-consensual sexual 2.4.2 Scotland
touching of another.[8]
There is no separate oence relating to incidents of do- There is no distinct oence of battery in Scotland. The
mestic violence, except in the case of death, where the oence of assault includes acts that could be described as
oence of causing or allowing the death of a child or a battery.


Jurisdictional dierences

In some jurisdictions, battery has recently been constructed to include directing bodily secretions (i.e., spitting) 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). The terminology
used to refer to a particular oense 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 of an assault might be Person A advancing upon Person B by chasing after him and swinging
a st 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 oensive 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 oensive contact
with his or her person.

[3] "

- ( )
13 June 1996 N 63- \ ".
Consultant.ru. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
[4] 794.011 Sexual Battery Unspecied.
Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
[5] Florida Statute on Aggravated Battery. Florida Legislation.
[6] Chapter 21: Crimes And Punishments PART II.-PROHIBITED CONDUCT Article 34: Crimes Against
Person. kansasstatutes.lesterama.org/. Retrieved 4
March 2015.
Legislature. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
[8] The Sexual Oences Act 2003, section 3
[9] Archbold Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice, 1993
supplements and 1994 and 1996 editions
[10] Smith, John Cyril; Hogan, Brian (1999). Criminal Law
(9th ed.). London: Butterworths. p. 402. ISBN 0-40698383-6.
[11] Smith, J. C. [1991] Crim LR 900
[12] Haystead v Chief Constable of Derbyshire [2000]
EWHC QB 181 (12 May 2000)". Bailii.org. Retrieved
[13] Smith & Hogan (2008). Criminal Law. OUP. p. 584.

In some places, assault is the threat of violence against an- [14] The Criminal Justice Act 1988, section 39
other 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 (tort)
Battery (tort)
Non-fatal oences against the person in English law
Right of self-defense


[1] Blacks Law Dictionary Garner, p. 162

[2] Clark, William Lawrence; Association, American Bar
(1909), Elementary Law, pp. 11718, retrieved 2009-0801


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