You may have heard the term ‘assault’ being used for cases that involve physical altercation. You have have also come across situations where there was clear physical contact that resulted in the attacker getting punished by the law.

However, what constitutes an assault? Is a slight slap to the wrist the same as hitting someone’s face with full force? The difference in these two is down to one word – Intent.

This can be explained further by using Section 321 of the Penal Code.

Voluntarily causing hurt: According to Section 321 of the Penal Code, assault is defined as voluntarily causing hurt. This means, the intent to slap, or hit a person using your hands with the purpose of causing pain that doesn’t lead to any serious injury.

However, there are some cases where the use of force is much greater, and the intention of the attacker is more than just to cause pain, this is where Section 322 of the Penal Code comes is relevant.

Voluntarily causing grievous hurt: This section is applicable when the attacker has the intent to seriously injure the victim, or to put it succinctly – to cause grievous hurt.

Real Life Example: In a recently concluded case, a man was jailed for four weeks after pleading guilty to an assault charge and two counts of using criminal force. In this case, all his victims were children. However, the degree of assault varied in each case.

Victim 1: He grabbed the left shoulder of a five-year old boy and tried to inflict pain on him after trying to snatch a toy away from his hands at a playground. A witness spotted him in the act and called the police.

Victim 2: He approached a three-year old toddler outside a shop and asked the child to follow him for ice cream, McDonald’s and Disneyland. When the maid tending to the child asked him to leave, he ignored her and tried to carry the child. The toddler’s father eventually called the police.

Victim 3: At a bookstore one night, the man approached a seven-year old boy from behind and rubbed his ears and shook his head from side to side for no apparent reason. The boy tried to shake him off but failed. After maintaining contact with the boy for a few more seconds, he finally let him go. The boy then ran to his mother who called the police.

As all three incidents did not result in any serious injury, the mere intent of the acts were enough for the man to be charged with two counts of using criminal force, as well as an assault charge. This resulted in a four-week prison sentence.

Over the years, our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu has defended numerous clients facing assault charges. From minor assault cases to incidents that involved criminal force, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you are caught in a situation where you have been accused of a crime, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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