What is transferred intent?
One of the elements of most crimes that the Commonwealth must to prove is “intent”.
There is a related legal principle called “transferred intent.” This applies when a person intends to harm one person but instead harms a different one. If a defendant intends to harm Person X, but instead harms Person Y, the defendant’s intent to harm X is transferred to Y.
What are some examples of transferred intent?
Here’s one example. A man named Nate is at a bar when his ex girlfriend Danielle and her new boyfriend Paul enter. Nate and Paul exchange some unpleasant words and quickly get into a fistfight. Nate intends on punching Paul in the face, but Paul is quicker. Paul ducks and Nate instead hits another patron at the bar named Steve who happens to be standing directly behind Paul. In this case, Nate’s intent to harm Paul is transferred to Steve.
Here’s another example. Maria is angry with her estranged sister Patricia for not inviting her to Patricia’s daughter’s wedding. So furious, she drives to her mother Laura’s house where she confronts Patricia, who happens to be there at the time. After a heated verbal argument, Maria attempts to slap Patricia across the face for calling her an offensive word. Patricia steps to the side and Maria strikes Laura instead. In this case, Maria’s intent to harm Patricia is transferred to Laura.
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