Touching an object held by another: Is this battery?

In People v B.L, a juvenile court case from the First District Court of Appeals, the question of what is a battery arose in an unusual circumstance. This case involved a minor getting upset and attacking a physical education teacher during a fit of rage. The minor smacked a walkie-talkie out of another teacher’s hand. The minor did not touch the teacher, which is usually required for a battery to occur; the minor merely smacked the device down.

The prosecution argued about how the walkie-talkie was “connected to her person” and therefore, this action is battery. The court found that this action does, in fact, constitute a battery because the minor either struck the hand or struck the walkie-talkie with such force that the same amount of force was applied to the hand. The court referred to an Idaho statute which states that intentional force does not need to be committed directly against the victim; it can be committed with an object connected to the victim. The court also referred to Malczewski v. State where similar reasoning was used. In that situation, the defendant had stabbed a bag held by the victim. While this action did not directly harm the victim, it was still considered battery. Therefore, direct and indirect force against a person can be considered a battery. An action does not need to cause harm or pain, nor does it need to leave a mark for it to be considered battery.

You would think that based on the reasoning of the court, forcefully taking something from someone may also be called a battery and a crime. The big question is what if you were taking something someone took from you? Wonder how many batteries take place during Black Friday shopping adventures!

Read the full court opinion here.

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