Yesterday, some guy took a diner's soda and threw it on him for wearing a political hat. Is that considered a crime, or is it ok to throw liquids on people? I know that protesters used to throw pies at politicians in Europe.


Update, apparently the guy in the example was arrested and charged with theft of a person because he also stole the guy's hat. Apparently they did not charge him with assault.

  • I think at the very least this could be prosecuted as assault as it fits the definition: "an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact."
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 5, 2018 at 18:10
  • I was coming here to post a question on the exact same topic. I should have a reasonable expectation of eating out without having to worry about someone throwing soda at me because they challenge my political views. This kind of childish behavior is unacceptable.
    – Zhro
    Jul 7, 2018 at 23:35
  • @RonBeyer is 100% correct. It is assault.
    – Putvi
    Oct 23, 2019 at 20:23
  • Almost certain it was theft FROM a person and not theft OF a person aka human trafficking.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 24, 2019 at 18:36

1 Answer 1



It is a crime almost everywhere to throw something at someone, even if it causes little or no injury. Usually it would be classified as "assault and battery" although if it damages clothing or other property, it could also be called, for example, "criminal mischief" which is intentional damage to property.

It would also be a tort that could be enforced with civil damages in most places, although only nominal damages would be awarded and there would be no award for attorneys' fees.

In practice, however, few people would press charges or turn to the police in such an incident, few police would take action based on the complaint because it is so trivial, and few people would sue in such a case.

For what it is worth, the "living law" in Japan recognizes that someone has a duty to pay to clean your clothes or replace them if they can't be cleaned in such circumstances and most people appear to comply with that obligation without court involvement if the victim insists.

Also, pie throwing as a political protest in Europe is also almost surely illegal under European law, although, again, this is rarely enforced by common political culture and tradition.

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    Technically as far as charging would go, this is assault. Battery is causing harm and assault is putting the person in fear of harm. Throwing water on a person would place them in fear you would batter them.
    – Putvi
    Oct 23, 2019 at 20:13
  • @Putvi: In addition, in these conflicts, the person throwing the substance cannot know the reaction of the person they intend to hit to the substance. Suppose that the person hit was allergic to something contained in the drink or food, and had an allergic reaction. The person throwing the item would then be on the hook for battery, or if worse, some homicide.
    – hszmv
    Nov 4, 2019 at 16:03
  • @hszmv the not knowing part is why intent comes into many criminal laws.
    – Putvi
    Nov 4, 2019 at 16:41

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