Pronunciation: bat - ur - ree
Definition: the unprivileged, intentional, and either offensive or harmful contact with another person
A battery can occur in a civil or criminal case. Remember, a civil case generally involves a private lawsuit brought by a plaintiff against a defendant, while a criminal case involves the government (i.e. prosecutors) against a defendant. We’ll focus on battery in a civil context here.
In a civil case, battery is known as an intentional tort. In short, a tort is a wrong done by one person to another. So, an intentional tort is a wrong intentionally done by one person to another. The essential elements of battery include the (i) unprivileged, (ii) intentional, and (iii) offensive or harmful contact with another person. All three elements must be present for the battery to have occurred.
Battery also does not require an actual physical beating because the mere use of any degree of force against the body constitutes battery. For example, if you intentionally blew smoke into someone else’s face without that person’s consent, you’ve likely committed a battery!
Keep in mind that there are many kinds of defenses to torts such as battery, including consent, self-defense, defense of a third person, necessity, defense of property, etc. In other words, if a plaintiff files a claim of battery against a defendant, the defendant can argue that one of the defenses apply.
For example, assume a plaintiff claims that the defendant hit him. The defendant may agree that he hit the plaintiff, but he did it to protect himself from the plaintiff who attempted to cut him with a knife. This would be an example of self-defense.