Is It Illegal to Spit on Someone?

Is It Illegal to Spit on Someone

Spitting is a common act that people do now and again for various reasons. It can be done to get rid of bad taste which is not wanted in the mouth or after coming across a stench smell. Spitting is the act of ejecting saliva from one’s mouth as a gesture of anger or contempt. People can get angry for many reasons triggering the urge to retaliate. At the end spitting may be done in retaliation to express anger or show contempt. Spitting on someone can be considered illegal or not illegal depending on the circumstances. There are assault and battery act which gives a guideline that distinguishes the acts of spitting from being legal and illegal. It is important for everyone to understand the scope of application of these laws so that you are not charged for spitting on someone.

Laws on Spitting on Someone

To say illegal implies that something is forbidden or contrary to a criminal law. Any violation of a criminal law of any kind is a criminal offense and therefore illegal. A criminal offense is validated by the presence of a law that prohibits such offence otherwise there will be no offense. It is important always to note that being legal is not a benchmark for normal acceptance from a moral stand point. Certain actions can be legal but morally unacceptable. There are two laws that address the act of spitting.

There are two crimes associated with spitting on someone, crime of assault and crime of battery. These two crimes are often used interchangeably which is wrong though they are closely linked. Crime of assault refers to an act where there is an intention to use violence towards someone with the present potential to cause harm to that person. Battery on the other hand describes an act where someone strikes another using force or violence against that person. The major distinguishing aspect between these two offenses is that assault need only involve an attempt to cause harm whereas battery implies actual violent action. California law is very broad in what can be considered unlawful use of violence or force upon a person in its criminal code.

Spitting Without Contact

There are cases where spitting cannot be illegal and one can stand to defend himself or herself in courts. Suppose one spits unintentionally on someone and there is no contact between the spit and the other person, in this instance there is no willingness or intention to cause harm to that person and the act does not constitute assault. In this way spitting is not illegal. Secondly, there was no contact between the spit and the other person hence the act does not warrant any offense against a person.

There are cases where one may smell a stench smell and without carefully looking spits on the side where there is a person. There is purely no intention on this act, it was purely accidental and the person has not committed an offense. There is no willingness to cause any harm to someone. There are also cases where the spitting does not constitute contact between the one spitting and the other person. But in an instance where probably there was an argument between the two resulting in such act, the one who spits on the other may be liable for an offense as there was an intention in the act. However, assault cases involving spitting are very difficult to deal with as there are many points that need to be proven to hold someone guilty of such offense.

Spitting With Contact

In some cases, the spitting on someone may involve contact where the spit touch the other person be it on their body skin or clothes. Depending on the circumstances, this can be deemed an offense or not. Suppose like mentioned above that one wants to get rid of a bad taste from his mouth and accidentally spits on someone there lack of intention in this act may be a basis for one to be spared by the assault and battery laws. In cases where the act was intentional, this is an offense and the offender may be charged for battery.

Imagine two people are having an argument and one spits on the other person probably out of anger and maybe there is nothing he can do besides that. There was intention in the act though it was an emotional act it was conscious and intended to harm the person and this makes it an offense. Additionally, there was contact between the spit and the other person. It does not matter whether the contact was on the skin or shoe it is deemed an offense. The cases may be a bit more serious in cases where the spit can find way into the body of someone either through the mouth and the charges can be severe as compared to other cases. It is important to note that even if the spit contact the other person and the spit may never cause any harm to that person it is still considered an offense under battery code. Also spitting into someone else’s drink or food they eat may also be considered assault since the spit will eventually makes contact with the person.

There are fines associated with these offenses and they vary depending on the circumstances. Simple assault is considered a misdemeanor act and attracts a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail term of up to six months. Instead of incarceration probation can be offered. For the offense committed against an official performing public office duty the statute provides for a higher fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year in county jail.


The conclusion can be drawn that spitting on someone may be illegal or legal based on the circumstances as highlighted above. Every person should be familiar with these laws and above all be guided by good moral principles towards other persons.