Criminal Intimidation in Singapore

Criminal Intimidation in Singapore

Introduction

Making a threat against someone may appear inconsequential to yourself, but it might put you in prison even if you were only attempting to startle the individual and would not have carried it out. Making threats to an individual to harm him as a person or that person’s reputation is an offence in Singapore. This is because threats like this might be considered “criminal intimidation”. Criminal Intimidation is categorized as an offence under the Penal Code.

Explanation of Criminal Intimidation

Criminal intimidation is explained as anyone who threatens to harm another person, their reputation, or property, or the person or reputation of anyone else in whom that person has an interest, with the intent to alarm that person or cause that person to commit an unlawful act or omit to do something that the person is entitled to do in order to avoid the threat by the offender.

Criminal intimidation, according to section 503 of the Penal Code, occurs when someone threatens to harm a person’s body, reputation, or property, or the body or reputation of anybody that person knows, with the intent to:

1) Alarm that person.
2) Make that person do something he is not legally compelled to do.
3) Prohibit that person from performing an act that he is legally entitled to do.

Elements of Criminal Intimidation

1) Intention to Cause Alarm

Threats to cause alarm might be delivered orally or physically, such as waving a knife at someone. Even if your victim did not feel threatened by your threat, you might still be found guilty of criminal intimidation. You can be judged guilty if your words or behavior are objectively alarming to a reasonable person.

2) Intention to Make Someone do Something they are not Legally Compelled to do

If Mr. X threatened to notify Ms. Y’s parents about their sexual relationship until she sent him more indecent images of herself. The victim was coerced into sending more indecent photographs of herself, which constituted criminal intimidation because she was not legally obligated to do so.

3) Prohibit Someone from Performing an Act that they are Legally Entitled to do

You may also be charged with criminal intimidation if you purposefully threaten someone to prevent them from carrying out a lawfully permissible action. For example, if you threaten to burn down your colleague’s house in order to prevent your colleague from suing you, you may be charged with criminal intimidation.

Threat Followed by Action

If you threaten to hurt someone and then do so, whether physically or by causing reputational damage, you will most likely be charged with criminal intimidation as well as another offense for actually doing so.

Threat Without Action

A full-time national serviceman threatened to spread his army mate’s girlfriend’s upskirt film if she did not provide him with her nude photo in a case heard in 2017. He was given a four-month sentence. Dominique Tiang Zhang Yao followed the 19-year-old inside a station and secretly recorded an upskirt video of her. He then made a fake Instagram account, looked through his army buddy’s photos for her account, and sent her the upskirt video. If she would not provide him with a nude photo of herself, he threatened to expose her video. The girl called the police, who arrested him three days later. Thus, one might be arrested for criminal intimidation even without committing any action after the threat is made.

Related Offences

1) Intentional Insult with Intent to Provoke a Breach of the Peace

This offence is committed by anyone who deliberately insults and so provokes another person with the intention or knowledge that such provocation will lead him to break the public peace or commit another offence.

2) Criminal Intimidation by an Anonymous Communication

Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation using an anonymous communication or by taking efforts to hide the identity or whereabouts of the person from whom the threat is made is said to have committed this offence.

Punishments

1) Criminal Intimidation

If a person is found guilty of (non-aggravated) criminal intimidation, the penalty under section 506 of the Penal Code is up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

2) Aggravated Criminal Intimidation

Threats of criminal intimidation that are severe enough might result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years, a fine, or both:

  • Threats of death or grievous hurt
  • Threats to set fire to property

3) Intentional Insult with Intent to Provoke a Breach of the Peace

The punishment for the offence of intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace is imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years and a fine or either.

4) Criminal Intimidation by an Anonymous Communication

If you intimidated someone via anonymous communication, such as a false internet profile, your sentence for criminal intimidation (under section 506 of the Penal Code) might be increased by up to 2 years, for a maximum sentence of 4 years.

Criminal Intimidation as an Arrestable Offence

A suspect can be arrested without a warrant if he or she has committed an arrestable offence. Criminal intimidation in any form is an arrestable offence. For instance, if your victim files a police report alleging that you threatened to murder them, the police will be allowed to arrest you without a court warrant.

Criminal Record for Criminal Intimidation

You may have a criminal record if you are convicted of criminal intimidation in any form. This is because the Commissioner of Police has the authority to prevent you from being registered as a criminal for criminal intimidation offences. Your information will be erased after 6 months and you will not have a criminal record if he decides to do so. If the Commissioner of Police does not exercise such discretion and you are subsequently recorded as a criminal, you may still be eligible to have your record spent. This simply implies that your information will be wiped. To be eligible for your record to be spent, you must first complete the following requirements:

  • If you were sentenced to prison, it could not have been for more than three months;
  • If you received a fine, it could not have been more than $2,000;
  • You must not have any prior criminal convictions on your record, nor any previous spent record on the register.

If you achieve these requirements, you must next stay crime-free for at least 5 years, beginning on the day you were released from jail or the day your sentence was passed if you were fined.

Cases concerning Criminal Intimidation

1) Ye Lin Myint v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGHC 221

During August and September of 2017, the appellant engaged in a criminal intimidation and harassment campaign against clients and prospective clients he had met through his work as an insurance agent, as well as members of the general public. The appellant used various methods to disguise his identity, including setting up anonymous email accounts and a Bitcoin wallet in the hopes of collecting funds anonymously. He also used several aliases, such as “Lord Voldemort” and “Dr. Bruce Banner.” Among other things, his communications threatened the receivers with physical harm, reputational damage, job loss, and imprisonment. These messages caused significant distress to individuals who were unlucky enough to receive them, and they reached a big-enough audience to generate widespread concern. The appellant was eventually identified as the sender of these messages, and he was charged with 43 charges in total. The prosecution brought 13 charges against the defendant. Five of the charges were filed under Section 507 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation by anonymous communication. The appellant pled guilty to all of these crimes and agreed to have the other 30 charges considered (“TIC charges”) for sentencing reasons. In the State Courts, the appellant was sentenced to a total of 29 months in jail. He filed an appeal because the penalty was manifestly excessive according to him. After going through all the facts of the case and the arguments of the appellant, the Court dismissed the appeal.

2) Ong Sock Hung v Public Prosecutor [2005] SGHC 95

The appellant was found guilty of criminal intimidation against one Yak Hong Chia in the District Court and sentenced to two months in jail under the first limb of Section 506 of the Penal Code. The prosecution’s case against the appellant was entirely dependent on Yak’s identification proof, according to the trial judge. Yak and Tan were judged to be trustworthy and honest witnesses by the trial judge, but the appellant was not. The trial judge further held that the appellant’s threats had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be aimed at Yak to cause her alarm. The prosecutor had proven its case against the appellant beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the trial court. The accused appealed against the decision of the trial court. The Court came to the opinion that the appellant’s conviction should be upheld after carefully considering the notes of evidence and the trial judge’s Grounds of Decision. Even though Yak was the only witness in this instance, the Court was convinced that the accusation against the appellant was proven. The Court found that the appellant’s grounds for appeal were without substance and that she had failed to show that the trial judge erred in convicting her. Accordingly, the appeal against the conviction was dismissed.

3) Tan Yao Min v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGHC 311

This was an appeal against a sentence issued by the District Court on three charges stemming from the appellant’s preoccupation with two biological sisters, aged 14 and 18, at the time of the incident. In this instance, the appellant pled guilty to three charges: criminal intimidation under section 506 of the Penal Code, unlawful stalking, and intentionally causing alarm under section 3(1)(b) of the POHA, which is punishable by section 3(2) of the POHA. In addition, he agreed to have three more offences considered for his sentence. The District Judge ruled that the sentences for the criminal intimidation and stalking charges be served consecutively, giving the appellant a total term of 18 months in jail. The accused appealed against this decision. According to the court, the appellant was recalcitrant. Despite his claims of remorse, the Judge was unable to detect true remorse since he had refused to learn from his past brushes with the law concerning similar crimes perpetrated against the sisters. The unlucky sisters were subjected to significant anguish and grief, as evidenced by their victim impact statements. There was apprehension among their relatives. The principal sentencing goals were to provide particular deterrence and public protection. The Court was not convinced that the District Judge’s sentence was manifestly excessive for the reasons stated above and hence dismissed the appeal.