Transferred-Intent Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Transferred intent doctrine is a legal principle which makes a person who intends to harm a second person, but unintentionally harms a third person liable on ground that the person’s criminal or tortious intent toward the second person applies to the third as well. According to the doctrine the intent to cause harm to the second person is transferred to the third person thereby making the actor liable. The offender may be prosecuted for an intent crime or sued by the third person for an intentional tort.

A number of jurisdictions have rejected the doctrine of transferred intent in relation to the crime of attempted murder of the unintended victim. Transferred intent is inapplicable where no death results and the defendant is charged with attempted murder of the intended victim, because the defendant committed a completed crime at the time he shot at the intended victim regardless of whether any injury resulted to the unintended victim. [Cockrell v. State, 890 So. 2d 174, 177 (Ala. 2004)]