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Man afraid he committed assault by refusing to hold baby

Could he go to jail?!


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 16, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 12:15 am CDT

Reddit’s legal advice forum is full of people who have gotten themselves into situations so bad that they’re asking Reddit for legal advice. But sometimes, r/legaladvice delivers a truly great story, like the tale of the man who isn’t sure whether he’s committed assault against a baby. 

Did I commit assault? How can I defend?” wondered Redditor ArcherPI. His unlikely story takes place in the breakroom at his work, where a coworker is holding court with her new baby. 

All of the employees were on good terms, and engaging in the usual “pleasant chit chat,” when the new mom suddenly approached our hero(?) and disaster struck. 

Here’s what went down, in ArcherPI’s words: 

It all happened in a second. I’m still not 100% clear on the exact order of events, but as I remember it, I heard her suddenly saying, “ArcherPi you haven’t gotten a turn yet”. And then she kind of lobbed the baby against my chest, while I stuck my hands behind my back and stepped away instinctively. I guess she let go instinctively before she noticed that last detail because she removed her own hands in the same motion and the baby tumbled.

Daaaaaaamn. Dude, you are in trouble.

We have hard tile floors in the break room and bathroom and the baby’s head made a sort of hollow thunk, there was a pause, and then the baby started wailing. My coworkers all swarmed to pick her up and her mother starts screaming at me! I don’t feel strong enough to repeat the parts I remember except when she hustled out of there saying she was taking her to the hospital, and then before she leaves, she says that she is going to press assault charges against me.

On the plus side, the baby rejector had witnesses who could vouch that he didn’t do anything, and security footage to back him up. To Reddit’s finest legal minds, his case was solid. 

According to the top comment, posted by derspiny, he’s in the clear under the relevant Manitoba law.

It’s not assault.

s. 265 (1) A person commits an assault when
(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;
(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or
(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

In no way is refusing to grasp someone assault.

Others suggested that, under the statute, shoving a baby at someone, completely unbidden, might actually be assault. The tables have turned!

On the other hand, the social ramifications of failing to catch the baby could be far more serious. Clearing the air with coworkers after that might be difficult, although it could be forgiven in time.

This is one area where you don’t really want to follow the dictates of r/legaladvice. One poster suggested ArcherPI show the security tape to bosses and coworkers preemptively, to prove he’s in the clear. While sound from a liability standpoint, this is probably not the best way to help everyone forgive and move on. 

In the end, the best advice is: Don’t drop babies.

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*First Published: Sep 16, 2016, 7:30 am CDT