A battery is any offensive or unwarranted touching of the person. A civil assault occurs when a person is put in imminent apprehension of an offensive or harmful physical contact.
Battery is generally defined as an intentional, nonconsensual invasion of a person's interest in freedom from harmful or offensive bodily contact. In our culture, the slightest offensive touching - even if the victim is unaware of it - may be actionable. An intentional and offensive touching is a battery, whether or not its purpose is to cause injury or harm. Actual damages are not an element in an assault or battery action and need not be pleaded or proven. According to the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 19, a contact is offensive only "if it offends a reasonable sense of personal dignity."
Both assault and battery are regarded as intentional torts
Both assault and battery are regarded as intentional torts in the sense that the defendant must intend the act, though not necessarily the harm or injury. This is especially true where immunity statutes (immunizing negligence, but not intentional torts) may be applicable. Because battery is an intentional tort, the defense of contributory negligence is not available.
battery involves the unwarranted touching of another
While a battery involves the unwarranted touching of another, a civil assault occurs when a person is put in "imminent apprehension" of an offensive or harmful physical contact. But, display or even brandishing of a weapon with no apparent threat of imminent use may not be deemed to be an assault. While displaying a weapon may not be an assault, the use of a weapon may be an assault even when no one is shot.
An action for assault
An action for assault protects a purely mental or psychological interest. In assault actions, the "ordinary man" rule applies so that exaggerated fear or apprehension of a battery by one who is unusually timid is not actionable as long as the defendant is not aware of any peculiar sensibilities.
battery may be actionable as a non-intentional tor
At times, battery may be actionable as a non-intentional tort, at least where the requisite recklessness or negligence is present. This is analogous to false arrest when "unreasonable" is a component of probable cause and to wrongful death where a negligence action may be maintained even where a weapon was intentionally but recklessly discharged. Decisions have increasingly recognized such claims under the rubric of "negligent use of excessive force." Thus, it has been held that an officer who used his car to stop one fleeing on foot after a chase may have negligently used excessive force. It has been noted that the traditional definition of battery encompasses conduct other than purely intentional conduct, because a defendant will be held to know the certain or substantially-certain consequences of his acts.
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