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Explaining that the original malice is transferred to the person who suffers the consequence of the unlawful act, the Florida Supreme Court has said that the law, as well as reason, prevents a defendant from taking advantage of his own wrongdoing, or excusing himself when the unlawful act, if committed by the defendant, strikes down an unintended victim. In addition to homicide cases, Florida courts have also applied the doctrine of transferred intent in aggravated battery prosecutions when a blow that was intended for one victim struck another.
The State's evidence showed Maurice William Sagner intended to strike someone else, but hit victim instead. Just before the attack, Sagner was in a heated argument with the intended victim. They were still arguing when Sagner got in his car to leave. As he was leaving, Sagner threw a bottle out his car window. According to intended victim, Sagner looked directly at him when he threw the bottle. The bottle, however, hit a bystander in his head and shattered. A piece of glass from the shattered bottle flew into the victim's eye, causing permanent damage. Sagner was convicted and sentenced for aggravated battery. Sagner appealed and contented that the trial court improperly applied the doctrine of transferred intent to his aggravated battery offense.
Did the trial court improperly apply the doctrine of transferred intent to Sagner’s aggravated battery offense?
The appellate court rejected Sagner’s argument that, even under a transferred intent theory, the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal. Evidence of the heated discussion and name calling, followed by Sagner’s throwing the bottle in his intended victim's direction, was sufficient to show Sagner’s specific intent to commit the offense.