Unique Types of Criminal Battery

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What is Battery?

Battery occurs when a person intentionally touches or applies force to the body of another person.  The touching or force must be harmful or offensive, and must occur without the person’s consent.  Both civil and criminal laws prescribe legal penalties for battery. 

Battery is different from an assault, which is the act that creates a threat of battery or places the other person in fear of an impending battery.  A battery is frequently preceded by an assault; therefore the two terms are often combined in the phrase “assault and battery”.  

Are there any Unique Circumstances that affect Battery Laws?

Yes- there are some situations that may affect the outcome of a battery claim.  For example, unique circumstances may result in increased liability and more serious legal consequences.  Some of these special situations involving a battery may include:

Medical Battery:  Most medical malpractice claims involve some form of negligence.  However, nearly all states have laws requiring that a doctor obtain a patient’s informed consent before they provide non-emergency treatment.  If the doctor does not adequately inform the patient and obtain their consent, they may be held liable for a medical battery for the unauthorized touching or handling of the patient’s body.

Toxic Battery:  The disposal of toxic materials may constitute a battery if it is done recklessly or egregiously, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.  Persons or companies may be sued for the illegal disposal of hazardous or toxic substances.  The actor responsible for a toxic battery need not actually intend to cause harm.  Instead, a court will find a toxic battery if the defendant had the intent to commit the act which resulted in harm.  Toxic battery is also common in tobacco cases and other class action suits.

Sports Batteries:  Sports often involve a high risk of harm to participants.  Thus, most sporting events require that the athletes consent to the activity, and usually cannot be held responsible for accidental injuries.  However, if the player uses excessive force to harm another player, they may be found liable for battery, especially if the contact is outside the rules of the game.

Domestic Violence Battery:  Many domestic violence cases involve battery charges, mostly in instances of spousal or child abuse.  Battery in a domestic violence setting is often prosecuted aggressively, since many persons may be hesitant to testify against a loved one.  In some states, battery may occur even to a person’s “extended person”, for instance if property is destroyed in the presence of the victim. 

Sexual Battery:  Any non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature may be considered sexual battery.  Sexual battery may also occur if the contact is with an underage person or with a person who is mentally incompetent.  Also, sexual battery may occur if a person abuses their position of authority or trust to engage in sexual conduct with a child or minor.

Do I need a Lawyer for Legal Issues involving Battery?

If you are involved in any situation in connection with a battery, you should speak with an attorney immediately.  Your lawyer will be able to inform you of the various laws covering battery, which vary from state to state.  Also, an experienced attorney will be able to identify whether any unique circumstances or factors may affect the outcome of your battery claim. 

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Last Modified: 05-18-2012 04:01 PM PDT

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