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It's my understanding if a person agrees to fight then it's legal. So if they say "hit me" does that mean it's legal for a person to hit them? What if they obviously mean it in a sarcastic way, or taunting? Is it legal for them to hit the person back if they didn't agree to get hit?

I ask because I've seen a lot of videos were reporters heckle celebrities and normal people, and when they get agitated they say "hit me" or "go ahead, take a swing". Would it be illegal if they did?

8

This is going to vary by state to some degree. The Wisconsin battery law says in part:

(1) Whoever causes bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that person or another without the consent of the person so harmed is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(2) Whoever causes substantial bodily harm to another by an act done with intent to cause bodily harm to that person or another is guilty of a Class I felony.

And the terms are defined like this:

“Bodily harm" means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

“Substantial bodily harm" means bodily injury that causes a laceration that requires stitches, staples, or a tissue adhesive; any fracture of a bone; a broken nose; a burn; a petechia; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth.

So it would seem that one could present a defense of "they consented" if bodily harm was inflicted, but not if great bodily harm was inflicted. If they were being obviously sarcastic, then that's not really consent.

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    In some states, they semi-circularly define an assault as an assault which... and leave it to common law precedent to more precisely interpret assault. So you (the citizen considering whether they might assault a person) have to read the restatement of torts to know why consent matters. – user6726 Jan 10 '18 at 5:43
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    Pro and amateur boxers consent to being hit before the fight. Wouldn't this be an example? – mark b Jan 10 '18 at 19:44
  • Certainly boxers consent due to the nature of the sport, but I'm also sure that boxers inflict substantial bodily harm rather often (which makes consent irrelevant) and they aren't prosecuted. I don't know if that's due to some other law or just discretion. Chapter 444 of Wisconsin law regulates boxing specifically but it doesn't seem to give an exemption for substantial battery. For all I know common law says that boxing is acceptable. That might be its own question. – D M Jan 10 '18 at 20:38
  • Boxing an other contact sports are specifically authorized in the context of a licensed regulatory scheme. Not anyone can consent to that. – ohwilleke Jan 11 '18 at 11:29
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    @ohwilleke so if they call it a sport it's allowed, otherwise it's illegal? – Jankin Nov 9 '18 at 12:26
0

No one can give anyone permission to break the law

That includes you giving permission for someone to hit you if, without that permission, their doing so would be illegal.

There are circumstances where it is legal to hit people, for example, in the context of a sporting event like boxing, football or another contact sport. Or in self-defence which does not extend to punching someone who provokes you: you must have a reasonable fear of immanent (or actual) violence and self-defence is limited to the minimum force necessary to resolve the threat (what this is depends on jurisdiction).

Punching someone who merely says "hit me" or "go ahead, take a swing" would be illegal, however, if the entire circumstances were such that the person to whom this was said had a reasonable apprehension of immanent violence then self-defence may make this legal. Similarly, punching someone who has hit you first is only lawful if the purpose of your punch is to stop them hitting you again or to place them under arrest for the crime of hitting you - if they hit you and ran away you are not permitted to use violence against them because you are no longer in danger unless you are subjecting them to reasonable force in the course of making an arrest.

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    Also worth noting that you shouldn't fall for the "I won't press charges" line that's portrayed in some TV shows and movies, because most jurisdictions do not require a complaining witness to proceed with assault charges. As long as they can prove the assault occurred, whether the person wants you to be charged or not, they can get you convicted of that crime. – animuson Dec 16 '16 at 7:53
  • IIRC there was some mention a while back on this site about boxing being a very peculiar exception to the law, but I can't find it. Can you address how boxing or MMA matches can be legal at the same time that it is not legal to strike a person with their explicit permission? – feetwet Dec 16 '16 at 20:21
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    This seems wrong in both directions. In boxing, the objective is to render the opponent unconscious via battery. No competent modern expert would agree that beating someone in the head until he can't stand up in less than ten seconds is "harmless." OTOH, if someone says, "try to hit me; I want to see if you are fast and strong enough to land a painful blow?" The stated goal in that case is to test a skill, sort of an impromptu "game." A priori nobody can say with any certainty that harm would be inflicted in the attempt, so are the parties not absolved of intent in such a case? – feetwet Dec 16 '16 at 23:33
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    @Jankin you cannot consent to something illegal - some forms of contact are illegal irrespective of consent – Dale M Jan 5 '17 at 5:55
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    This should not be downvoted. You can certainly be prosecuted for committing a crime even if the victim gave you permission. There are fringe cases like in contact sports but they certainly don't establish any rule to the contrary – Shazamo Morebucks Apr 7 '18 at 21:02
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It's my understanding if a person agrees to fight then it's legal.

You are wrong.

So if they say "hit me" does that mean it's legal for a person to hit them?

No.

What if they obviously mean it in a sarcastic way, or taunting?

Still no.

Is it legal for them to hit the person back if they didn't agree to get hit?

A person can use physical force in self-defense, if necessary and proportional. But, they can't hit someone to punish someone for hitting them if the threat to their person has ended.

I ask because I've seen a lot of videos were reporters heckle celebrities and normal people, and when they get agitated they say "hit me" or "go ahead, take a swing". Would it be illegal if they did?

It would be illegal if they did.

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    If you cannot consent to a fight then why isn't boxing and martial arts illegal? – Jankin Apr 8 '18 at 11:28
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    @Jankin Because they are specifically singled out as exceptions under regulatory schemes. – ohwilleke Apr 8 '18 at 18:46
  • My understanding, confirmed by some answers here, is that in some jurisdictions consent is an available defense to at least some degrees of assault, and in other jurisdictions it is not. Is that incorrect as far as you know? – David Siegel Mar 20 at 20:16
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In the UK you can use consent as a defence against "Common Assault", which is an assault that does not cause significant injury. Any more serious assault is a crime regardless of assault.

There are specific exceptions to this for medical treatment, sports and decorative things like tattooing and piercing.

This became an issue thanks to Operation Spanner in which a group of men engaged in sadomasochism were convicted of assaulting each other. The "victims" were also convicted of "aiding and abetting" on the grounds that their consent had assisted the perpetrators.

The judgements in this case have been criticised for the disparity with similar ones involving heterosexuals.

-3

Many of you are not very good lawyers. It's very simple to understand battery if you just read your statutes. It literally depends on what state the battery occurs in and what the state defines as a battery.

For example, in the state of Florida, there are various defenses to battery Charges:

Consent (Yes, it's a real thing) Mutual Combat Insufficient intent Self Defense

Intent is an essential element of a battery. Therefore, if the victim consented to the touching, no criminal battery can occur. Likewise, in the right circumstances, the process of mutual combat could be raised. Under this process, if two (or more) people mutually engage in a fight, neither should be charged with battery because they both agreed to be touched or struck by the other.

So, rather than just blatantly tell someone they are wrong, one should consider all of the elements, the state in which the incident occurred, and any other extenuating factors, rather than just jump on this site and tell someone they're wrong. Otherwise, I guess that would make YOU wrong. I hope you feel a little less ignorant. Remember, ignorance is not stupidity, it's lacking the proper knowledge. Yes, that would be you.

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    You could do less with the pompous talking-down, and more with providing resources to support what you're claiming, especially as it contradicts the quoted text of at least one law regarding battery. – Nij Apr 7 '18 at 22:48
-3

Battery | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information ... https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/batteryDefinition.

  1. In criminal law, a physical act that results in harmful or offensive contact with another's person without that person's consent.

  2. In tort law, the intentional causation of harmful or offensive contact with another's person without that person's consent.

With consent the act is not illegal. That is the law.

  • A legal dictionary cannot accurately represent the law in all areas. – D M Nov 10 '18 at 0:50

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