Assault and Battery
Author : Prity Kumari
Assault and Battery are the two facets of civil as well as criminal cases. These are the two separate legal concepts with distinct elements. They are intentional torts, meaning they can serve as the basis for a civil lawsuit demanding compensation in the form of monetary damages.
An assault or Battery is committed when one person tries to or does physically harm another or acts in threatening manner to put another or an apprehension of danger.
In simple terms, assault is an attempt or threat to injure another person, while battery is an act of making contact with another person in a harmful or offensive manner.
The victims of these criminal offences may have a personal injury claim. In these cases, the criminal prosecution may result in jail custody, if the personal injury claim is successful then the victim may be awarded with the compensation for the pain and suffering due to such acts, medical costs incurred, and injuries or wounds sustained.
Assault and its definition
Assault may be defined as an attempt to injure someone else, and in some circumstances can include threats or threatening behaviour against others.
As per section 351 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 assault has been defined as “whoever makes any gesture, or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that he who makes that gesture or preparation is about to use criminal force to that person”.
It may also be defined as an attempted battery. The main distinction between both of criminal offences is that no contact is necessary in case of an assault whereas an offensive or illegal contact must occur for battery.
Act required for Assault
The most important requirement is that there should be an apprehension of danger in the mind of the reasonable person.
Mere words are not sufficient for the offence of assault unless the offenders back them up with an act or the gestures of such person or preparation put the victim in a reasonable fear of imminent harm.
In simple terms, battery can be defined as the intentional offensive or harmful touching of another person without their consent. Battery is the actual physical act of harming the other person to the point of injury.
Act required under the Battery
For the commitment of battery, act must be offensive or harmful. It ranges from the simple physical attack to harmful attack that may cause injury to the other.
Generally, injury or harm is not so important but offensive contact is necessary. For instance, spitting on an individual does not physically harm that person but it nonetheless may amount to offensive contact which is sufficient to constitute the offence of battery.
Civil and Criminal Liability
Like other cases of personal injury, the victim may claim for both the civil and criminal liability. Criminal liability generally involves the punishment of the accused whereas civil liability ensures compensation for the sufferings of the victim.
If the act has been intentionally committed against the victim then the victim is usually entitled to get compensation for the medical expenses, damages suffered and sufferings that occurred due to such acts.
The additional compensation which may be claimed against the perpetrator includes emotional distress, punitive damage and similar compensatory payouts.
Defences available for assault and battery charges
There are several factors that may be taken into consideration for determining fault in a personal injury claim.
In cases of battery, the defendant may take plea of self defence for the acts. For applied defence, the fact finder must look at which party was the original aggressor, whether he or she acted reasonably and whether the act had been committed in retaliation.
Self defence of others or defence of property may also be applied as a defence in these cases. Moreover, assumption of risk principles may be applied as a defence if the victim was injured during a sports activity or a recreational activity in which some harm is an integral part of the activity.
In a nutshell, the victim may claim for both the criminal as well as civil liability. The victim is entitled to be compensated for the injuries suffered by the acts of the assault and battery and perpetrators can’t be exempted from this liability. Although some defences are available but this defences needs to be carefully examined.