Did you know that you can be criminally charged even if you have not inflicted any physical harm? The act of criminal intimidation, otherwise causing someone to feel threatened, is an arrestable offence in Singapore.
What is Criminal Intimidation?
According to Section 503 of the Penal Code, whoever threatens to cause any injury to any person, reputation, or property, with the intention of causing any alarm to that person; or to cause that person to carry out any unlawful act to avoid the threat by the offender, is guilty of criminal intimidation.
Criminal Intimidation or Assault?
Section 351 of the Penal Code defines “assault” as a gesture or preparation that the offender intends for a person to think that criminal force is going to be used against them. However, there are two key differences between assault and criminal intimidation.
Words cannot amount to assault. This means that merely saying “I will beat you up” without showing any indication of actually going to do so will not constitute assault. However, under criminal intimidation, these words could potentially be seen as a threat intended to cause alarm.
Penalties for criminal intimidation are harsher than those for assault. For assault, the maximum punishment is three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $1,500, or both. The maximum punishment for criminal intimidation is two years of imprisonment or a fine, or both.
Consequences of Criminal Intimidation
According to Section 506 of the Penal Code, anyone found guilty of criminal intimidation shall be imprisoned for up to two years, or fined, or both. If the threat was to cause death or grievous hurt, destruction of any property by fire, or any offence punishable with death or imprisonment for up to seven years or more, the punishment will be up to ten years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.
However, if you threaten to harm someone and actually end up hurting that person, be it physically or by causing reputational damage, you will likely be charged with criminal intimidation as well as another offence for actually causing such harm.
What If Someone Threatens Me With Words?
If someone threatens to inflict bodily injury, property damage, or damage to your reputation, such a threat may amount to criminal intimidation. The threat must be made with the intention of causing alarm or coercing the victim to do something they would not otherwise do.
Making another person fearful of being hurt by you may also amount to the offence of assault under section 351 of the Penal Code. Apart from criminal sanctions, it may also be possible to file a civil action for assault.
Engaging a Lawyer
If you are currently being threatened with words, you should make a police report immediately and consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.
Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences and high-profile criminal cases to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.