Have you lost your cool, acted out of impulse and assaulted somebody? Here is what you need to know about voluntarily causing hurt in Singapore.
What is voluntarily causing hurt?
To start off, we need to understand the legal definition of hurt. Under the Penal Code, hurt is defined as any kind of bodily pain, disease, or infirmity. Hurt can also be psychological and not just physical.
Under section 321 of the Penal Code, a person commits the offence when he or she carries out an act that causes hurt to a person with intention to cause hurt to that person or knows that his or her action is likely to cause hurt to that person.
What is voluntarily causing grievous hurt?
When the victim has sustained more severe injuries, these are categorized as grievous hurt and are dealt with separately under the Penal Code with its own set of tougher punishments.
Aggravated forms of voluntarily causing hurt
The following are known as aggravated forms of voluntarily causing hurt under the Penal Code:
- By dangerous weapons (fire, heated substances)
- Voluntarily causing hurt that is turns out to be grievous hurt (the offender intended to cause hurt to the victim but unintentionally caused grievous hurt instead)
- To deter a public servant (prison officers, police officers) from his duty
Consequences for voluntarily causing hurt
If a person is convicted for voluntarily causing hurt, he may be sentenced up to 3 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000.
To determine the extent of the punishment to be meted, the court is guided by a sentencing framework that consists of 3 main sentencing categories.
Category 1: Low harm
The first category comprises of victims who do not have any visible injuries, or have minor injuries, such as bruises, cuts or scratches. Generally, offenders in such cases would be sentenced to a fine or an imprisonment term up to 4 weeks.
In most cases, an imprisonment term will only be considered if the court is of the opinion that the offender is a danger to society or when he is highly culpable, that is to say he or she had pre-planned the attack or had used a weapon during the assault.
Category 2: Moderate harm
The second category applies where the victim was given short hospitalisation or a significant amount of medical leave as a result of the hurt caused. Victims who sustained fractures, mild/temporary loss of a sensory function would also fall under this category.
An offender found guilty under this category may face an imprisonment term of 4 – 6 weeks.
Category 3: Serious harm
The third category comprises of victims who sustained serious injuries of a permanent nature and/or serious injuries that needed surgical procedure.
An offender who falls under this category may be sentenced to imprisonment term of 6 months – 2 years.
Other factors for sentencing consideration
Following the determination of the category, the court will move on to assess the relevant aggravating and mitigating factors.
The aggravating factors include:
- Whether the assault was planned in advance
- Whether the victim was vulnerable
- Whether the offender had previously committed similar acts
- Whether a weapon was involved in the offence
The mitigating factor would be:
- Whether the offender showed genuine remorse
Where the court concludes that the case is an aggravated form of voluntarily causing hurt, the offender can face harsher punishment – an imprisonment term of up to 7 years, a fine, caning or any combination of these punishment. On the other hand, mitigating factors taken into consideration may reduce the degree of punishment against the offender.
Upon conviction, the court may also order for a compensation order against the offender – i.e. the offender to pay compensation to the victim.
Can a person be arrested for voluntarily causing hurt?
Under the law, a police officer must have a warrant issued by the court to arrest a person who is alleged to have voluntarily caused hurt to a person. However, if the act of voluntarily causing hurt involves a dangerous weapon, causes grievous hurt or hurt to a public servant, the police officers are entitled to arrest the alleged offender without a warrant.
Consult a lawyer
An offence for voluntarily causing hurt has serious consequences. As an alleged offender, you may want to approach us, criminal lawyers and seek advice and options on your criminal rights.