Question: Is the intentional throwing of a punch at one person, but hitting someone else still a battery?
In 2009, the Defendant was involved in an altercation with his ex-wife, his child and her boyfriend. Late in the evening, Defendant went to his ex-wife’s apartment and left a note on her truck. Thinking he had gone, ex-wife and boyfriend went outside to retrieve the note; however, he had not gone but had remained in the parking lot. When ex-wife saw the two men approach each other, she stepped in between them, but they began to hit one another, and the Defendant punched his ex-wife, causing her to fall to the ground and cut her ankle in the presence of their daughter. Based upon this incident, Defendant was charged with domestic battery in the presence of a child as a Class D felony. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and he was sentenced to 2 years with all but 116 days suspended.
On appeal, the Defendant claims it was error to give an instruction to the jury on transferred intent which in relevant part states:
If one intends to injure a person and by mistake or inadvertence injures another person, his intent is transferred from the person to whom it was directed to the person actually injured and he may be found guilty of domestic battery. In a muddled argument, the Defendant appears to claim that the transferred intent instruction was improper in this case because domestic battery (the offense he committed by hitting is ex-wife) and battery (the offense he would have committed had he hit boyfriend) are distinct offenses that require a different mens rea (mental intent) such that transferred intent cannot apply. The element in the present case that sets domestic battery apart from a general battery is the requirement that the person touched (1) is or was a spouse of the other person, (2) is or was living as if a spouse of the other person, or (3) has a child in common with the other person. A second additional element present in this case is the commission of the offense in the presence of a child. This element is an aggravating circumstance of domestic battery that increases the penalty for the crime to a D felony. Both of these additional elements require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but do not require proof that the Defendant acted knowingly or intentionally with regard to these facts. In summary then, the State was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant knowingly or intentionally struck a person, and then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person that was struck is or was the spouse of the Defendant and that he committed the offense in the presence of a child. Thus, the two offenses of battery and domestic battery do not require a different mens rea as suggested by the Defendant; rather, both offenses require a showing beyond a reasonable doubt of a “knowing or intentional” touching in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. The additional elements are facts that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt; however, there is no requirement that the state prove that the Defendant acted knowingly or intentionally as to the status of the victim or the presence of a child. For the reasons stated, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by instructing the jury as to the doctrine of transferred intent. 985 N.E.2d 25