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What Is Transferred Intent?

For many offenses, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to carry out a criminal act. For example, under N.R.S. 200.481, battery is defined as the willful use of force against another person. To land a conviction for this offense, the prosecutor must show that the defendant purposefully meant to injure someone else.

If a person other than the intended victim is harmed during the commission of a crime, the prosecutor could use the doctrine of transferred intent to satisfy their burden of proof. They must prove that the actions of the accused were willful and purposeful, even though the person who was unintentionally injured was not the intended victim.

Let’s say David intentionally set out to hurt Kim. In carrying out a particular action, David accidentally injured Jamie instead of Kim. Under the doctrine of transferred intent, David could be charged with battery even though he did not mean to harm Jamie. In this situation, David’s intent is transferred from Kim to Jamie, and he could be found guilty of the offense.

Applying Transferred Intent to Offenses

Generally, transferred intent can only be used if the intended action and accidental result are similar. That is to say, if David meant to shoot Kim but missed and broke her window, he might not be charged with destruction of property; his purpose was to harm a person, not to destroy someone else’s possessions. 

Call the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover for a Free Initial Consultation

If you were accused of committing an offense, contact our team as soon as possible. Having skilled legal counsel on your side can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your case. We will look at every detail of your situation to build a compelling strategy and challenge the prosecutor’s argument about intent.

To schedule your free consultation, call us at (775) 502-1575 or contact us online.