Offences Against the Person
Offences Against the Person
Assault or Common Assault: Common Assault is both a common law crime and a statutory offence under section 40 of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212. The range of circumstances giving rise to a potential charge of assault are myriad. A punch that misses, for example, can constitute assault. There are defences available to those charged with common assault including consent and self-defence. If facing a possible charge of common assault there may be alternatives to prosecution if the injuries are not serious (see Bind Over) . If assault is the only charge it is likely to be brought in the Magistrates Court. We have experience in defending those charged with assault and in assisting those being investigated by the Police for assault and in exploring alternatives to prosecution.
Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (AOABH) contrary to section 39 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212. AOABH is a more serious type of assault where there is actual bodily harm caused by the assault. In a prosecution for AOABH, the “actual bodily harm” aspect is usually backed up by medical evidence. This can be minor such as redness, tenderness or swelling or more serious such as concussion or bruising. If facing a charge of AOABH, the Prosecution may consider a lesser charge such as assault (see above) or indeed an alternative to prosecution (see Bind Over). If the charge proceeds to a trial, defences are available and our team can advise you and defend you at trial.
Assaulting a Police Officer: Assaults on police officers are treated seriously in Hong Kong and the courts often impose immediate custodial sentences following a conviction. The rationale for this is to deter such assaults and to ensure the safety of police officers acting in the due execution of their duties. Charges can be brought under section 36 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance, Cap 212 or section 63 of the Police Force Ordinance, Cap 232 and there are implications in relation to sentencing depending upon which provision a person is charged under. We have represented and successfully defended persons charged with assaulting a police officer and can assist and advice those facing such a charge.
Fighting in a public place: This is a public order offence (under section 25 of the Public Order Ordinance, Cap 245) attracting a maximum penalty of HK$5,000 and 12 months imprisonment. If acting in reasonable self defence the fighting is not unlawful. To be convicted under this section the prosecution must prove that the unlawful fighting took place in a “public place”. As with other minor offences against the person, it is often worth exploring the alternatives to prosecution to see whether a conviction can be avoided.
Murder: Murder has always been the most serious offence in Hong Kong. It was formerly a capital offence leading to the death penalty. Although the last execution in Hong Kong was in 1966, murder remained a capital offence in Hong Kong until 1993. Today a conviction for murder results in a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Thankfully there are not many murders in Hong Kong but if a person is charged with murder it is essential that he or she receives the best possible advice on the evidence, the prospects of defending and the possibility of negotiating plea to a lesser count. Our lawyers have successfully defended murder charges, acting with Counsel in the High Court. A murder trial will always take place before a jury. Advice on jury trials by experienced lawyers is essential for any defendant faced with a murder charge.
Wounding: Wounding offences under section 17 and section 19 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance, Cap. 212 are the more serious offences against the person often encountered in the courts. Section 17 charges are brought in the District or High Court where section 19 offences are tried either in the Magistrates or District Courts. Section 17 attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, where section 19 attracts a maximum of 3 years imprisonment. To constitute a wound there must be a break in the continuity of the skin. If you face a wounding charge it is essential that it is treated seriously as the consequences for a conviction for wounding are likely (though not certain) to include imprisonment.
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