California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1321. Transferred Intent

If [name of defendant] intended to commit a battery or assault on one person, but by mistake or accident committed the act on [name of plaintiff], then the battery or assault is the same as if the intended person had been the victim.

New October 2008

Directions for Use

Use this instruction with CACI No. 1300, Battery—Essential Factual Elements, or 1301, Assault—Essential Factual Elements, if it is alleged that the defendant intended to batter or assault one person, and mistakenly or accidentally battered or assaulted the plaintiff.

Sources and Authority

  • “While throwing rocks at trees or into the street ordinarily is an innocent and lawful pastime, that same act when directed at another person is wrongful. The evidence at bar . . . warrants an inference that [defendant] threw at [third party] and inadvertently struck [plaintiff]. In such circumstances the doctrine of “transferred intent” renders him liable to [plaintiff]… ‘If defendant unlawfully aims at one person and hits another he is guilty of assault and battery on the party he hit, the injury being the direct, natural and probable consequence of the wrongful act.’ The rule is not confined to criminal cases, as argued by respondents.” (Singer v. Marx (1956) 144 Cal.App.2d 637, 642 [301 P.2d 440], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 384

3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 41, Assault and Battery, § 41.01[3][c] (Matthew Bender)

6 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 58, Assault and Battery, §§ 58.13, 58.15 (Matthew Bender)

2 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 21, Assault and Battery, § 21.22 (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 12:8