Charges brought against the accused depend upon the injuries caused to and suffered by the victim. In this case Chloe only suffers bruises and scratches, which constitute as minor injuries therefore Reena can be charged with the common assault known as a battery as defined by section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act. The Actus Reus for a battery is the application of unlawful force to someone else. The applying of force does not have to be personal contact; touching another's jacket would suffice for a battery as long as the other feels it.
As is known from the case of Cole v Turner the slightest degree of force, even the mere touching will suffice. The definition of force in this context would be the application of strength or energy. If there is no application of force there cannot be a battery. The harm suffered also needs to be physical; causing someone psychiatric harm does not constitute a battery. With this in mind it is not clear whether Reena could be liable for a battery, as she has not actually touched Chloe in any way.
However from the case of DPP v K concerning a schoolboy pouring sulphuric acid into a hot air shaft and when another comes to use it the acid blows onto his face resulting in permanent scarring, it was found that force could be applied directly or indirectly. Indirectly would apply in those situations where the accused creates an obstruction or places an object, which results in force being applied to the victim when the victim carries out some form of conduct. In this case Reena removes screws from a chair so that when the victim for whom this booby trap situation was created sits on it, it collapses.
It is now held that a positive act is required to commit a battery and Reena's conduct constitutes a positive act. The fact that Chloe not Belle turns out to be the victim is irrelevant. It also needs to be proven that the force applied was unlawful, thus not consented to by the victim. An offence can be committed despite consent if it is invalid. The general rule regarding consent where actual bodily harm is intended or caused as held by the court of appeal in A-G's reference (No 6 of 1980) is that a persons consent is irrelevant and cannot prevent criminal liability if an injury is caused, which is not completely trivial.
A battery cannot be unlawful if force is applied in a self-defence situation or if the accused is acting under a statutory obligation. Reena's conduct does not satisfy any of these exceptions therefore it can clearly be stated that she has applied 'unlawful' force to Chloe's body. It is clear from these facts that Reena has committed the Actus Reus for a battery. The Mens Rea for a battery is that the accused intended to apply unlawful force to another or was subjectively reckless as to whether such force might be applied. For the Mens Rea of intent it must be proven that Reena's direct aim or purpose in this case was to apply unlawful force.
Direct intention was defined as 'the accused's aim or purpose' by the Court of Appeal in Mohan (1976). However the facts tell us that she carried out her conduct as a 'practical joke' thus her direct aim would be to 'have a laugh' therefore to apply unlawful force to the victim was not her aim or purpose. On the other hand the fact that she removed the screws 'surreptitiously', thus secretly or cunningly implies the fact that it must have been her aim to make the victim fall to the ground thus apply unlawful force as the victim did not consent to this horseplay nor did anyone else know what she had done so could not warn Chloe beforehand.
If this is not regarded as sufficient evidence for the Mens Rea of intent then it can also be stated that Reena was subjectively reckless as she consciously took an unjustified risk of applying unlawful force. In contrast, for example X lays a hand on Y wrongly believing that he has validly consented to some form of horseplay then he cannot be committed for a battery because although he applied force to the body of another, this force was not intended to be unlawful nor was X subjectively reckless as to it.
An intention to injure another is not required nor need the accused act with a hostile mind towards the victim, therefore oblique intention in relation to specific consequences would not apply. However it is clearly obvious to a reasonable person that via the act of sitting on a chair, which has no screws, a person is bound to fall to the ground, thus hurt themselves. This virtually certain foresight could constitute as evidence from which a jury could infer intent.