What is Voluntarily Causing Hurt: Part II

As mentioned in “What is Voluntarily Causing Hurt: Part II,” the element of intention or knowledge that it is likely to cause hurt or grievous hurt must be present in order to be charged under this section. However, it is possible for a situation to arise where the offender has neither the intention or the knowledge.

 

Provocation as a defence

This is likely an instance where the offender has been provoked and therefore lost self-control over his actions. Although this will negate the finding of the element of intention or knowledge, it does not necessarily mean that a charge under Section 321 or 322 is automatically dropped.

Instead, this instance would allow the offender to plead a mitigating factor by availing himself to the defence of provocation. A successful defence of provocation will result in a more lenient punishment.

The matter of the fact is that this defence has rarely been invoked successfully. This is arguably due to the difficulty in making out the circumstances of provocation to be of a grave and sudden nature. As such, it is largely dependent on the facts of the case.

Nevertheless, in the case of a 54 year-old baker assaulting his colleague, the charge of voluntarily causing hurt by provocation was successfully invoked. Amidst other comments and gestures made by his colleague, the breaking point occurred an insensitive racial comment targeted at his late mother was uttered. This formed the basis of a sudden and grave provocation, which subsequently resulted in a sentence of 1 months’ imprisonment.

 

Other specific instances of causing hurt

There are many other circumstances that the Penal Code has recognised to accord specific punishment guidelines, often where harsher punishments are warranted.

 

Relevant Legislation Offence Punishment
By dangerous weapons or means
Section 324 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing hurt Up to 7 years imprisonment, or with fine, or with caning, or with any combination of such punishments
Section 326 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing grievous hurt Life imprisonment, or up to 15 years imprisonment AND with fine or caning
To extort property or to constrain to an illegal act
Section 327 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing hurt Up to 10 years imprisonment
AND with fine or caning
Section 329 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing grievous hurt Life imprisonment, or up to 10 years imprisonment AND with fine or caning
To extort confession or to compel restoration of property
Section 330 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing hurt Up to 7 years imprisonment
AND with fine or caning
Section 331 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing grievous hurt Life imprisonment, or up to 10 years imprisonment AND with fine or caning
To deter public servant from his duty
Section 332 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing hurt Up to 7 years imprisonment
AND with fine or caning
Section 333 of the Penal Code Voluntarily causing grievous hurt Life imprisonment, or up to 15 years imprisonment AND with fine or caning
By act which endangers life or the personal safety of others
Section 337 of the Penal Code Causing hurt by rash act Up to 1-year imprisonment, or with fine up to $5000, or with both
Causing hurt by negligent act Up to 6 months imprisonment, or with fine up to $2500, or with both
Section 338 of the Penal Code Causing grievous hurt by rash act Up to 4 years imprisonment, or with fine up to $10 000, or with both
Causing grievous hurt by negligent act Up to 2 years imprisonment, or with fine up to $5000, or with both
By means of poison, etc. with intent to commit an offence
Section 328 of the Penal Code Causing hurt Up to 10 years imprisonment
AND with fine or caning

 

The 2016 case of the brutal bashing of an 18-year-old victim which continued even after being unconscious is quoted to be among the worst assaults and the most serious cases involving youth offenders. The victim sustained injuries of a broken skull and bleeding in his brain, which escalated the assault into a fatal one. The youth offender was thereby sentenced, along with other petty criminal offences, to 8 ½ years in jail with 24 strokes of caning.

However, not all convicted cases of voluntarily causing hurt are that severe. In fact, on the other end of the spectrum, there have been numerous cases which involved a slap or a punch with non-fatal and less severe injuries being sustained by the victim. In these cases, the punishments are significantly more lenient.

In 2017, a prison officer was fined $2000 after he was charged with voluntarily causing hurt as he had punched a UOB promoter after being asked a routine question of whether he was a permanent resident. The UOB promoter suffered multiple contusions but only a fine was imposed in light of the compensation offered and the prison officer’s first brush with violent offence.

In 2018, a man was sentenced to 3 weeks’ imprisonment after he slapped a 69 year-old SMRT employee. Although the injuries were not severe, considerations of his previous convictions for violence offences and the age of the victim resulted in the harsh punishment of imprisonment.

 

 

Please note that this article does not constitute express or implied legal advice, whether in whole or in part. If you require legal advice, please contact me at walter@silvesterlegal.com.