What is Transferred Intent?

Legal Definition
Transferred intent (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.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Transferred intent is used when a defendant intends to harm one victim, but then unintentionally harms a second victim instead. In this case, the defendant's intent transfers from the intended victim to the actual victim and can be used to satisfy the mens rea element of the crime that the defendant is being charged with. The transferred intent doctrine is only used for completed crimes, and is not used for attempted crimes.
Legal Definition
a principle that states a person is guilty of a crime if he has injured or attacked a person he hasn't meant to harm.