Assault and Battery

ASSAULT

DEFINITION: An act done by one person which causes, and is intended to cause, to another an apprehension of an immediate and harmful or offensive touching or contact with his person is an assault.

An assault is an attempt or a threat to do a corporeal hurt to another, coupled with an apparent present ability and intention to do an act. Actual contact is not necessary in an assault, though it is in a battery. Any gesture calculated to excite in the party threatened a reasonable apprehension that the party threatening intends immediately to offer violence or in the language of the Indian Penal Code is “about to use criminal force” to the person threatened, constitute, if coupled with a present ability to carry such intention in execution, an assault in law. These definitions embody the following essentials:

(1) An intent to inflict a battery upon another person or to cause to him an apprehension of a battery;

(2) An act done for this purpose, as distinguished from mere violent or abusive language; and

(3) An apprehension of a battery.

PHYSICAL ACT: Mere violent and abusive language does not constitute an assault. Threats over the telephone, even at short range, do not constitute an assault.

INTENT, ABILITY TO COMMIT A BATTERY: In addition to a physical act, the defendant must intend to put the plaintiff in apprehension of an immediate and offensive or harmful touching and have the present ability, actual or apparent, to inflict such a touching to be subject to liability for an assault.

In Stephens v. Myers 4 Car. & P., the defendant, in the course of an angry discussion, advanced with his fist clenched towards the plaintiff, with an apparent intent to strike him, and was stopped by a third person. The jury was instructed that this constituted an assault. Threatening gestures are sufficient to constitute an assault.

BATTERY

DEFINITION: A harmful, or an offensive, touching of the plaintiff’s person, caused directly or indirectly by a voluntary act of the defendant with an intention to inflict a harmful or an offensive touching, is a battery.

OFFENSIVE TOUCHING: A touching of another’s person may be both offensive and harmful, or it may be merely offensive and not inflict substantial harm. A touching which is not harmful but which is offensive to a normal or reasonable person is a battery, and it subjects the actor to liability if the touching is not consented to or privileged.

HARMFUL TOUCHING: A battery may consist of a harmful touching of the plaintiff’s person, caused by the defendant with an intent to inflict a harmful or an offensive touching either of the plaintiff’s person or that of a third person.

In Cole v. Turner, In this case it was held “if two or more meet in a narrow passage, and without any violence or design of harm, the one touches the other gently, it will be no battery”. But “if any of them use violence against the other, to force his way in a rude inordinate manner, it will be a battery.”

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