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A tort is a wrongful act that causes someone else to suffer harm. Most of the time, the person who committed the act did so unintentionally, and it is considered negligence. But when the person that acted wrongful intended to do so, his behavior may be considered an intentional tort.

Common Intentional Torts

Many intentional torts are relatively common, including:

  • Battery – the legal term for striking someone. This covers a range of activities, from punching someone in the face to firing bullets into his body with a gun.
  • Assault – an attempted battery, or threatening to injury someone, although no actual battery takes place.
  • False imprisonment – restricting another person’s movement against their will, with two exceptions: police privilege and shopkeeper’s
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress – engaging in outrageous or extreme conduct with the intent of frightening someone else, and causing severe emotional distress or bodily harm.
  • Fraud – the legal term for lying. Plaintiff must prove that defendant knew four things: 1) that he was lying, 2) that the plaintiff would believe him, 3) that the plaintiff would rely on the false statement, and 4) that the plaintiff would be harmed by this reliance.
  • Defamation – causing harm by saying something false about someone else, including written statements (libel) as well as spoken (slander).
  • Invasion of privacy – four types: invasion of solitude; public disclosure of private facts; false light; and appropriation.
  • Trespass – using someone’s land or personal property without permission.
  • Conversion – taking someone else’s property and “converting” it into their own – also known as stealing.

Some intentional torts are also considered crimes, although the difference between them is important. A tort can result in a civil suit for monetary damages, while a crime involves criminal proceedings brought by the state and can lead to fines and jail or prison time.

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