Battery is commonly seen as the unwanted or unpermitted touching of another person by an individual, with the clear intention of doing harm. In cases of battery, there is usually an element of assault involved just prior to the act. This generally consists of the perpetrator showing, vocalizing or preparing for the act of battery upon the victim by way of threat of physical violence. In most cases, battery is prosecuted as a crime only in instances involving serious harm to the victim. Most victims of battery sue for specific damages in civil court.
The elements of battery that must be present in order to pursue adjudication against a defendant include: an act by a defendant; an intent to cause harmful or offensive contact on the part of the defendant; and harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff. The only question in determining the act of battery is the action taken. If someone hit you, but no bruise or visible result of the crime existed, there would still be a battery. A secondary type of contact constituting battery is when no actual physical harm takes place. This involves the interfering with or removal of something the plaintiff was possessing, wearing, or in close contact with.
As in assault, intent is also key in a battery case. Although contact must be intended, no intent to harm an individual need be established for it to be considered battery. There is specific and general intent when discerning the defendant's mindset with regards to battery. Specific intent means the defendant's contact was specifically intended. General intent means the defendant was substantially certain his act would cause the contact intended. Intent to contact is not exempt if it was intended as a joke, in tort law. Consent to contact, however, is a defense, just as a person in a crowded area assumes a certain amount of personal risk and implied consent to "incidental contact".
Indirect offensive or harmful conduct results when a defendant sets in motion a chain of events that harms an individual or individuals, or fails to reasonably warn an individual of impending harm that he or she may have knowledge of.
Aggravated battery, like aggravated assault, occurs when great intent to do bodily harm, or murder - such as with a deadly weapon - is present. It is punishable as a felony in all states, and generally garners a heavy sentence. In civil action it is punishable by damages, either compensatory, nominal or punitive, as in assault cases.