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.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Intent to commit a criminal or civil wrong against one person that instead harms a different person. In this situation, the intent necessary to convict or find the wrongdoer liable transfers from the intended act to the committed act. For example, someone who intends to shoot and kill one person, but misses and kills a bystander may be convicted of murder; the perpetrator had the necessary criminal intent even though he or she didn't intend to kill the bystander.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:26 pm