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Intentional Torts to the Person by Mind Map: Intentional Torts to the Person
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Intentional Torts to the Person

An intentional tort is one in which the Defendant acted purposefully to injure the Plaintiff. There may intentional torts to the person or intentional torts to property.


  The elements of assault are: 1.       Intentional action by the Defendant 2.       That caused the Plaintiff to have fear or apprehension of 3.       A harmful or offensive contact. Intent may be actual or constructive. In other words, action where a reasonable person in the same circumstances would know with a substantial certainty that harm could occur if the contact is made can be considered intent. Actual fear is not a requirement. The victim must simply be apprehensive of the contact. Awareness, then, is a requirement, and a person who is unconscious cannot be assaulted. The Defendant must have the apparent ability to carry out the threat of violence. The threat of offensive contact must be imminent and cannot be a future threat. The intended contact must be harmful or offensive. There is no requirement that the victim would be seriously injured if the contact occurred. Different states have different standards about what would be harmful or offensive, but most use the “reasonable person” standard. In other words, the law does not take into account the subjective feelings of a particular victim. DEFENSES TO ASSAULT 1.       All of the elements are not present. 2.       Consent—the Plaintiff agrees to allow the Defendant to attempt offensive contact.  


Battery is a completed assault. The elements are: 1.       Intentional action by the Defendant 2.       That made contact with the Plaintiff 3.       And that was offensive or harmful. Just as with assault, the Defendant must have acted knowingly and purposefully. An unintentional contact would not be an assault (with the exception of the Transferred Intent Doctrine which is discussed separately). Contact refers to any contact with the Plaintiff, no matter has small. Contact may be directly between the Plaintiff and Defendant (the Defendant reaches out and touches the Plaintiff), or may be accomplished by “an extension” of the Defendant (the Defendant throws a rock and hits the Plaintiff or uses a weapon to harm the Plaintiff). The law does not use a subjective standard to determine whether a contact was harmful or offensive. The “reasonable person” standard is used. DEFENSES TO ASSAULT 1.       All of the elements do not exist. 2.       Consent—The Plaintiff consents to the assault  (“If you beat me up, I can get my mother to let me stay with her.”).    

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False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is: 1.       Intentional action by the Defendant 2.       That is unlawful 3.       To restrain the Plaintiff 4.       By the use of force or threats. If the Defendant does not realize that he or she was confining someone, there is no false imprisonment. The restraint must be intentional. The Defendant can only commit false imprisonment if there is no lawful authority to restrain the other person. The force can be as small as putting a hand on the restrained person’s arm. The threat can be small, as well (“If you don’t come with me, I’ll drag you.”).   Even taking possession of personal property, like car keys, can constitute restraint of another.   DEFENSES TO FALSE IMPRISONMENT 1.       All of the elements do not exist. 2.       Consent—The Plaintiff voluntarily accompanies the Defendant or remains with the Defendant.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

When a Defendant is accused of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, the Plaintiff must prove: 1.       Intentional or reckless conduct by the Defendant 2.       Caused the Plaintiff severe emotional distress 3.       Because of the conduct’s outrageous nature. The Defendant must act with intent to cause emotional distress OR with such recklessness that emotional distress would naturally result. An example of reckless behavior is when someone reports distressing or damaging information as true without checking it for accuracy. In some jurisdictions, a bystander or witness to a horrible event may be able to claim severe emotional distress. In others, the Plaintiff must have been directly affected by the Defendant’s conduct. There must be a direct connection between the Defendant’s actions and the Plaintiff’s emotional distress. Most courts have said that, to be outrageous, the Defendant’s actions must be “intolerable” or “beyond society’s accepted standards of decency and morality.” DEFENSE TO INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS One or more of the elements are missing.    

Malicious Prosecution

Malicious prosecution is a tort designed to punish people who use the court system to harass or intimidate other people. When a person brings a baseless criminal charge against another, or continues to press charges knowing that the person is innocent, the innocent party has a right to sue. The elements of malicious prosecution are: 1.       Defendant in the malicious prosecution case brought or continued to prosecute a criminal charge against a Plaintiff 2.       The case terminated in favor of the Plaintiff 3.       The Defendant acted with malice in bringing the charge 4.       And there was no probable cause for the charge. The Defendant brings charges by swearing out a warrant for the Plaintiff’s arrest. If the sworn statement is false, the person who is arrested (the Defendant in the criminal action, but the Plaintiff in the malicious prosecution case) has a cause of action. It doesn’t matter what kind of criminal charges are brought against the innocent person. It only matters that the case ends in that person’s favor. If the case gets dismissed prior to trial, this element is satisfied. If a jury returns a verdict of “not guilty,” the element is satisfied. The Plaintiff must prove that the Defendant acted out of malice in swearing out the warrant. There must not have been probable cause for the charges. This is the element that prevents many malicious prosecution suits from being filed.