Can I charge someone with assault and/or battery?
I am African-American and I wear my natural (not chemically treated or relaxed) hair. For most AA our natural hair grows up & out giving us the Afro look. The longer the hair the bigger the Afro. I have had strangers touch my hair without my consent to see if it is fake, if it is soft, etc... This happens in grocery stores, at work, & other public places. I ask them to stop and say don't touch me but many of them respond with an attitude and one said "it's just hair." Do I and other natural women have a legal recourse? I hope this will stop this trend of personal violations we experience because rude strangers feel our hair is literally up for grabs. Is it illegal to touch another's hair without consent?
8 attorney answers
Is it illegal to touch another's hair without consent? It's not illegal to be rude and you have no legal authority to charge anybody with assault. I don't think you would have much of a chance of the police/DA pursuing criminal charges for someone touching you hair. Unfortunately, rude strangers are everywhere and I certainly agree they should not touch your hair without consent. However, legally, your options are very limited.
According to F.S. 784.03 it is a battery to touch or strike a person against his or her will. The short answer is Yes, touching your hair against your will is by letter of the law a battery. The reality is that I highly doubt the State Attorney's Office is willing to invest taxpayer resources into prosecuting it. As a taxpayer, I would not want that to happen. I'm sure it is very intrusive and frustrating to deal with, but I don't believe it is a problem the nature of which merits government intervention. I wish you the best of luck moving forward.
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Technically it is a legal battery. I am not sure the state attorneys office is going to expend the resources to prosecute someone for that.
Technically, you could file a criminal complaint with a police department if someone touched your hair without your permission. Practically speaking though, if you actually tried to have someone put in jail for simply touching your hair, you are a terrible person, not to mention the State Attorney's Office would never actually pursue such a ridiculous case.
I have had people (or rude strangers as you put it) pat my children on the head and tell me how cute they are, while it may make me uncomfortable for them to do that, I couldn't imagine possibly calling the police on them (not to mention wasting the police's time on something so petty).
I agree with most of the answers already given. As an aside, if it happens at work, as listed in your question, and you ask the people to stop, then go to your HR person to deal with it if this is a continuing problem.
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If your still employed and having issues at work, consult with an employment attorney before contacting HR.
I agree with my colleagues, that while unwanted or uninvited touching can constitute battery, unless such unwanted touching involves victim's private parts or causes some type of actual injury, it is very unlikely that police or state attorney would choose to prosecute such unwanted touching as a battery, since if that was the case, any person who didn't want to be tapped on the shoulder would have an option of criminally prosecuting the person who tapped him/her on the shoulder and our criminal courts (which are overwhelmed and overloaded already) would not be able to deal with other more serious crimes.
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