By Gloria James-Civetta

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Criminal Force, Assault, Criminal Intimidation

4 min read

It is straightforward enough that it is unlawful for anyone who hit another person, and anyone that does so may be punished in Court. What about if someone simply grips another person’s arm until it bruises? Or pours boiling water on another, or even incites their vicious dog to attack the other? Or threatens to do any of these things?

The Penal Code 1871 (“Penal Code”) provides for a variety of such offences. The above scenarios describe three separate offences:

  • assault,
  • criminal force, and
  • criminal intimidation.

While they all come under the umbrella of offences known as “Offences Affecting the Human Body” , each of them vary in their degrees of seriousness, which is why they are individually defined and have their own individual sentencing matrix.

Criminal force, assault and criminal intimidation charges are taken seriously in Singapore’s criminal justice system especially if the accusation is related to domestic violence, sexual offences, and road rage.

These charges generally carry an imprisonment term.

Criminal force

According to Section 350 of the Penal Code, a person uses criminal force on another if he/she uses force on another person with the intention to cause the person to commit an offence or intention to use unlawful force on another person to cause annoyance, fear and injury to the person whom the force is used on.

As mentioned earlier, gripping another person’s arm without their consent may amount to an offence of causing criminal force. This so even if it does not lead to an injury sustained!

The key elements of the offence are the intentional use of force (physical element), lack of consent, and an intention or knowledge that the use of force will cause injury, fear or annoyance to the other person (mental element).

Pouring boiling hot water on another person falls under this offence as well. In the same vein, splashing or throwing of any items to another person (such as paint or even faeces) also amount to an offence of causing criminal force.

Section 353 deals with criminal force against public servants (carrying a much higher punishment), while Section 354 deals with criminal force (or assault) with the intent to outrage their modesty (carrying a higher punishment as well).

Punishment for Criminal Force

Section 352 sets out the punishment for this offence – imprisonment of up to 3 months, a fine of up to S$1,500 or both. Interestingly, Section 352 provides a mitigating factor for this offence – “grave and sudden provocation” – where the offender unwittingly and unexpectedly commits the offence due to being severely provoked. This is a question of fact for the offender to prove.

Sections 353 to 358 detail further and more specific scenarios of criminal force which each carry different punishments. There are specific offences for acts of criminal force carried out in furtherance of other offences, such as outrage of modesty, theft, and wrongful confinement.

How Gloria James-Civetta & Co can help you

  • At GJC Law, we understand the severity of these charges. If you have been charged or are under investigation, our experienced team of criminal defence lawyers offer you strong representation from the moment you are aware charges could arise.
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Assault is committed when a person causes another person to apprehend unlawful use of force on him.

According to Section 351, assault is committed when a gesture or preparation is made with the intention to cause the person (victim) to apprehend that the person (offender) who makes the gesture is about to apply criminal force on the victim. Mere words do not constitute assault, but it amounts to assault if the offender’s words may give to his gestures causing the victim to feel that he may be attacked.

Punishment for Assault

The penalty for criminal force and assault is the same. According to Section 352, whoever assaults or uses criminal force will be imprisoned for a term of up to 3 months or will be liable for a fine of up to S$1,500, or with both.

Reported Cases

Irked by Flight Delay, Man Attacks Policeman
Cabby Fined $5k for Punching Neighbour

Criminal Intimidation

In Singapore, criminal intimidation is criminalised under Section 503 of the Penal Code.
According to Section 503, whoever (offender) threatens to cause any injury to any person, reputation or property, or the person or reputation of anyone whom that person has an interest in, with the intention to cause any alarm to that person or to cause that person to carry out any unlawful act or omit to do any act which that person is entitled to do in order to avoid the threat by the offender, is guilty of criminal intimidation.

Punishment for Criminal Intimidation

According to Section 506, whoever is guilty of criminal intimidation will be imprisoned for a term up to 2 years or will be liable for a fine or both. If the offender threatens to cause death or grievous hurt, or to destroy any property by fire or to cause any offence that is punishable by death or imprisonment for a term up to 7 years or more or impute unchastity to a woman, he/she will be imprisoned for a term up to 10 years or shall be liable for a fine, or both.

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