Is it an offence to remove or knock off someone's hat without consent?

An example would be A civilian removing a policeman's hat without using any force.

A civilian removing another's baseball cap without any force.

  • What do you mean "without any force"? Maybe you will do it gently, but you'll still exert some force on the hat, and the hat will exert some force on the head. (That's a matter of law, I guess: Newton's First Law.) That should be enough to constitute assault and possibly battery. Nov 19, 2015 at 13:43
  • I can't think of a better word than force for what I mean. As in. There is no aggression, no more force than you would apply when taking off your own hat.
    – Terry
    Nov 19, 2015 at 13:46
  • You are describing a BATTERY. Battery is usually a crime and is a civil tort. Nov 19, 2015 at 14:14
  • @Terry, you are conflating force and violence. Literal physical force is applied in the situation you describe, albeit slight force. There can be "aggression" without actual force. The better word is "violence", given what you apparently intended.
    – user6726
    Oct 24, 2019 at 19:53
  • A policeman will be able to legally inconvenience you. If you remove his hat, he will.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 26, 2019 at 10:32

1 Answer 1



Not a UK source but from the Judicial Commission of NSW:

An assault is any act — and not a mere omission to act — by which a person intentionally — or recklessly — causes another to apprehend immediate and unlawful violence: R v Burstow; R v Ireland [1998] 1 AC 147. Thus it is the fear which is the gist of assault.

If in removing the hat you engender fear of immediate and unlawful violence then you have assaulted the hat wearer. If the act does not create that fear, you haven't.


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