Transferred Intent Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Transferred Intent, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Transferred Intent?

In criminal and tort law an intention to cause harm to one person results in harm to another person instead of the targetted one the law trasfers the intent to the actual harm.

History and Meaning of Transferred Intent

Transferred intent is a concept used in criminal and tort law where a person's intent to harm one individual inadvertently causes harm to a different person or to property. In such cases, the law transfers the intent of the perpetrator from their intended victim to the person or property that was actually harmed. This doctrine recognizes that a person's intent can remain the same, even if the outcome of their actions differs from what they originally intended.

Examples of Transferred Intent

  1. A man tries to attack his neighbor, but misses and instead hits a passerby on the street. The man's intent to harm his neighbor is transferred to the passerby because the injuries the passerby received resulted from the same actions the attacker intended to use against the neighbor.
  2. A driver crashes into a parked car and pushes it into a pedestrian, causing them harm. Although the driver did not intend to harm the pedestrian, their intent to damage the parked car is transferred to the act of causing harm to the pedestrian.
  3. A person throws a rock at a window intending to break it, but instead, the rock hits and injures someone who is standing near the window. In this case, the person's intent to break the window is transferred to causing harm to the individual.

Legal Terms Similar to Transferred Intent

  1. Criminal intent: Refers to the mental state of a person when they commit a crime.
  2. Negligence: Occurs when a person's actions cause harm to another, but the person did not intend the harm.
  3. Strict liability: A legal doctrine where a person is held responsible for any damage or harm caused by their actions, regardless of whether they intended to cause harm or were negligent in their actions.