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Under Section 39 of The Criminal Justice Act 1988 battery is a summary offence with a
maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or a level 5 fine. The elements of the offence
have been developed at common law.
The actus reus of battery
Battery is the infliction of unlawful personal violence by the defendant upon the victim. It
does not necessarily involve an assault prior to it, but the two often accompany each other.
In Cole v Turner 1705 battery was defined as "the least touching of another person in
anger". This includes the clothes a person wears. For example, in Thomas 1985 the
rubbing of a girl's skirt was held to be sufficient for a battery.
A battery can be committed without the defendant touching the victim himself.
Fagan v MPC (1969) QB
The defendant accidentally drove his car onto a policeman's foot and then intentionally left it
there. This was a battery. The actus reus occurred when Fagan drove onto the policeman's
foot. The mens rea occurred when he decided to leave the car there.
R v Haystead (2000) DC
The defendant committed a battery against a woman when he punched her. He also
committed a battery against her child when it fell out of her arms onto the floor, even though
there was no direct contact between Haystead and the child.
The mens rea of battery
The mens rea of the offence is intention or recklessness as to causing a battery.
It was said in Venna: "...the element of mens rea in the offence of battery is satisfied by
proof that the defendant either intentionally or recklessly applied force to the person of


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