(or transferred malice
in English law) is a legal doctrine
that holds that, when the intention to harm one individual inadvertently causes a second person to be hurt instead, the perpetrator is still held responsible. To be held legally responsible under the law, usually the court must demonstrate that the person has criminal intent
, that is, that the person knew another would be harmed by his or her actions and wanted this harm to occur. If a murderer intends to kill John, but accidentally kills George instead, the intent is transferred from John to George, and the killer is held to have had criminal intent.
Transferred intent also applies to tort law. In tort law, there are generally five areas in which transferred intent is applicable: battery, assault, false imprisonment, trespass to land
, and trespass to chattels
. Generally, any intent
to cause any one of these five torts which results in the completion of any of the five tortious
acts will be considered an intentional
act, even if the actual target of the tort is one other than the intended target of the original tort.
See cases of Carnes v. Thompson
, (1932) Supreme Court of Missouri. 48 S.W. 2d 903 and Bunyan v. Jordan
(1937), 57 C.L.R. 1, 37 S.R.N.S.W. 119 for examples.