Voluntarily Causing Hurt represents minor injuries that one person can cause to another. This term is located under section 321 of the Penal Code of Singapore. Voluntarily causing hurt cases can be fairly common in Singapore, given the myriad of circumstances under which a person can perpetuate it.
What is the legal meaning of Voluntarily Causing Hurt?
To understand the meaning of Voluntarily Causing Hurt, we should first look at the part of the Penal Code that describes the definition of “hurt.” Hurt appears as a consequence of causing bodily pain, disease, or infirmity to any person. It can be physical but psychological, as well.
Furthermore, when it comes to criminal behavior as an intention of an offender to cause harm to another person or doing it with the consciousness that such action is likely to cause damage to that person, it would also be classified as Voluntarily Causing Hurt.
What are the potential penalties for Voluntarily Causing Hurt?
Section 323 of the Penal Code prescribes that a person who caused harm in the abovementioned way may face different penalties. It’s not possible to predict the exact punishment, as this occurrence can be undertaken under diverse circumstances. Occasions that lead to committing Voluntarily Causing Hurt will determine the intensity and the type of the penalty.
There are two types of punishment:
- Imprisonment: If a person commits voluntarily causing hurt, he or she can face imprisonment for up to two years.
- A fine: The other punishment for voluntarily causing hurt is amercement. It can result in a fine up to $5,000.
How will the Court determine the extent of the punishment?
There are three bands that determine the intensity of Voluntarily Causing Harm. The court would review each situation in isolation and determine which band a crime fits into. These bands are outlined below:
Group 1: Low harm
A victim doesn’t have any visible injuries, or the injuries are minor, such as bruises, cuts, or scratches. In most cases, the punishment for harm that falls within this band can be a fine. If the Court decided to hand down a prison sentence, it can’t be longer than four weeks. The Court is likely to consider a prison sentence if they feel the offender is a threat to members of the public.
Also, if the alleged person possessed a weapon during the assault or has made a plan for the attack in advance, he or she will be deemed as highly culpable. For extreme guilt, the Court will also decide that imprisonment is a proper response.
Group 2: Moderate harm
The second group comprises those cases where the victim requires short hospitalization. It can also include events where the victim required a significant amount of medical leave because of hurt caused. Additionally, the Court can determine the affiliation of the case to the second band if a victim suffered more serious injuries such as fractures, disorder, or temporary loss of sensory functions.
The punishment for such cases could be imprisonment from 4 weeks up to 6 months.
Group 3: Serious harm
If the victim has sustained serious injuries of a permanent nature or required a surgical procedure it would fall into band 3. A person found guilty of such an act could face imprisonment from 6 months to a maximum of 2 years.
If a victim sustained severe, permanent injuries that required a surgical procedure, the case would belong to the third group. A person found guilty may face a sentence of imprisonment from six to a maximum of two years.
To make a judgment, the Court will look for the answers to the following questions:
- Has the assault been planned?
- Was the victim vulnerable?
- Has the offender committed similar acts in the past?
- Did the offender use any weapon during the assault?
If the Court ascertains there are elements to deem your case as an aggravated form of voluntarily causing hurt, the condemned person can face higher penalties and prison sentences. In some instances of aggravated types, the punishment can extend to up to 10 years.
More aggravated forms implied by the Penal Code
The Penal Code prescribes five more forms of voluntarily causing hurt according to the presence of mitigating and aggravating factors:
- Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (section 324)
- Voluntarily causing hurt to extort property or to constrain to an illegal act (section 327)
- Voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession or to compel restoration of property (section 330)
- Voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty (section 332)
- Voluntarily causing hurt on provocation (section 334)
Can a person be arrested under section 323?
Unlike cheating, criminal trespass, or other offenses that the State generally deems to be more serious, voluntarily causing hurt isn’t an arrestable offense. This means that the police officers are not in power to arrest a person caught committing such acts. Instead, police officers need to obtain a warrant issued by a court in order to imprison the suspect.
Moreover, Singapore police officers don’t have the authority to arrest a person that they even caught in committing the act of voluntarily causing hurt at the scene. Thus, the obligatory requirement for detention is an order or a warrant issued by a Court.
However, if the act involves a dangerous weapon or an attack on a public servant, officers are able to arrest the alleged person at the scene.
What should I do if I’m a victim of Voluntarily Causing Hurt?
If police declined to pursue your matter after gathering witnesses’ reports and identities of the involved parties, you could do it instead. On your own, you have to file a Magistrate’s Complaint to the court. It is advisable to seek the support of a lawyer to advise you through this process and help with the necessary documentation and filing.
A Magistrate’s Complaint is filed to the State Courts if you want to seek redress for an offense that has been committed against you. Upon the review of your claim, the Magistrate will choose how to proceed with your matter, and there are several options:
- The Magistrate can order someone to attend Criminal Mediation. In this case, both the offender and the defender are obliged to enter Criminal Mediation and make an effort to solve the issue out of the Court.
- If the Magistrate decides to proceed with the process, he or she could issue a summons for the alleged offender to assist with the complaint.
- Magistrates can also direct the police to investigate the complaint.
- Also, the Magistrate is allowed to dismiss the case if they find there is no legal basis for further proceedings.
It’s up to the Court to decide whether it is appropriate for the victim to receive compensation from the offender. But, as the victim, you should be aware that, if a criminal court awards you with the compensation, you lose the right to seek redress before the civil court.