One issue that most criminal lawyers seem to overlook on a regular basis is the transferred intent doctrine. When we look at Black’s Law Dictionary, we find a definition that states when the intention to harm one individual inadvertently causes a second person to be hurt instead, the perpetrator is still held responsible. To be held legally responsible under the law, usually, the court must demonstrate that the person has criminal intent, that is, that the person knew another would be harmed by his or her actions and wanted this harm to occur. We see that the transferred intent doctrine carries with it the requirement of specific intent but the legal definition and the practicality are very different. To learn more about this doctrine, we turned to leaders in the criminal law firm for commentary.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and has developed a reputation for having the top criminal defense firm in the state of Michigan. When asked about the transferred intent doctrine, Grabel was quoted as saying, “Just because someone does not mean to hurt someone does not mean they cannot be tried for a crime. This is one of the most overlooked concepts in the field of criminal law. In actuality, if the defendant meant to hurt one person and harmed another they could be charged with both an inchoate and a principal crime. The transferred intent doctrine was meant to broaden criminal prosecutions.”
John Granger runs The Granger Law Office in Tuscon, Arizona. Granger is highly experienced with this legal concept and stated, “The transferred intent doctrine can add to the confusion and misunderstanding the client experiences with his/her case. it is important to have a firm grasp of the applications and complexities of the doctrine to be able to explore all possible defenses and to better explain why the charges were brought against the client.”