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Criminal | Offences Against The Person

Non-Fatal Offences: Battery Liability

Model Answer | A Level

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Discuss liability for battery

Battery consists of an act where the defendant intentionally or recklessly applies unlawful physical force to another person.

Actus reus

Actus reus is satisfied when physical force is applied.

The law advances the view that .. every man's person being sacred and no other having a right to meddle with it in the slightest manner... (jurist William Blackstone ).

Physical force

There is a low threshold for physical force required for battery. Lord Goff argued .. the fundamental principle, plain and incontestable is that every person’s body is inviolate... (Collins v Wilcock (1984)).

Touching clothes may be sufficient (Thomas (1985) ).

Consent can make touching lawful. Therefore ..consent is a defence to battery... (Collins v Wilcock (1984)).

Continuing acts may create liability (Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (MPC) (1969)).

Indirect acts may be sufficient (Martin (1881)). In Haystead (2000) the defendant punched his girlfriend, causing her to drop her baby onto the floor and he was found guilty of battery on the baby.


Unlike assault, in limited circumstances battery may be committed through an omission.

For example, a defendant was being searched by a police officer, knowing he had needles in his pockets but failed to warn about the danger and the officer was injured. Defendant created a dangerous situation and failed to act this was sufficient for battery (Santana Bermudez (2004)).

Mens rea

Mens rea of battery is satisfied if there is ..proof that the defendant intentionally or recklessly applied force to the person of another... (Venna (1976)).

So mens rea is satisfied if there is intention to apply physical force or recklessness that force will be applied.

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