criminal law

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June 02, 2021

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An assault is categorized as a ‘violent crime’ in the United Arab Emirates. A crime involving a physical attack or even a threat of attack can be potentially classified as an assault. Depending on the graveness of the act and considering the aggravating factors that might exist, assault can be further categorized as stated below.

Categories of Assault and their punishment

  • Assault under the influence: Pursuant to Article 336 of the UAE penal code and its amendments, if an assault is committed by the culprit while being under the influence of intoxication or stupefaction shall be considered an aggravating circumstance for assault and punishment can include imprisonment of eve up to ten years.
  • Assault with weapons: Pursuant to Article 341 of the UAE penal code and its amendments, if an assault is committed using a weapon, club or any other tool and also if the act was done with pre-mediation, then the offender can be punished with imprisonment as well as fine.
  • Domestic Assault: Pursuant to Article 334 of the UAE penal code and its amendments, assault by a male or female person in the circumstances concerning an act of adultery can be sentenced with detention as well as imprisonment.
  • Assault resulting in permanent injury: Pursuant to Article 339 of the UAE Penal code and its amendments, when physical assault culminates in illness or disability, then the punishment can include imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to ten thousand dirhams. However, if the illness or disability caused due to the assault renders a person unable to perform their personal work for a period of twenty days or more, then such conditions are considered as aggravated conditions and stricter punishments are awarded in the form of detention and fine.
  • Assault on means of communication and public utilities: Pursuant to Article 288 of the UAE penal code and its amendments, life imprisonment shall be imposed on any person who assaults an airplane or whip with the intention of capturing it or changes its course or harming any passengers on board.


Aggravating factors in an ‘assault’:

The UAE penal code particularly distinguishes an assault as aggravated or otherwise. This categorization exists based on the gravity of the harm caused due to the said act. An aggravated assault is categorized as a ‘felony’ as opposed to a simple ‘misdemeanor’. Felonies constitute serious crimes with stringent punishment and fines, which may include longer prison sentences, fines and even life imprisonment.

The UAE penal code lists the occurrence of the following factors in an assault crime as an ‘aggravating factor’, and these are:

  • Involvement of pre-mediation for the assault. Article 333 of the UAE penal code defines pre -mediation as ‘a determined intent prior to the commission of a crime against any person, and meditation on measures which are necessary to carry out the crime precisely’.
  • Acting under the influence of intoxication or stupefaction. Article 226, ‘Commitment by the culprit of the act under the influence of intoxication or stupefaction shall also be considered an aggravating circumstance’.
  • Assault of a pregnant woman resulting in abortion. Article 339, ‘If the assault on a pregnant woman results in abortion, it shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.’
  • Assault with deadly weapons, including making threats using deadly weapons such as a knife, or gun or any other object that can cause pain. Article 341, ‘If the assault is committed by using a weapon, club or any other tool, and by one or more members of a gang composed of at least five persons who conspire to assault and to cause injury, a sentence of detention and a fine shall be inflicted upon each of them without prejudice to any severer penalty against any of them who takes part in the aggression or any other penalty provided for in the law’.
  • An assault resulting in death. Article 342 states, ‘Anyone who, through his own fault, causes death to a person, shall be punished by detention and by a fine or by either of these two penalties’
  • An assault resulting in culpable homicide not amounting to murder, ‘Whoever assaults another person physically in any manner without intending murder, but the assault leads to death, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years. If any of the circumstances specified in the second paragraph of Article (332) arises, it shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.
  • An act of indecent assault of a male of female who is below the age of fourteen years. Article (356), ‘The crime of indecent assault is committed against a male or female who is under fourteen years of age, or if the crime is committed by coercion, it shall be punished by temporary imprisonment’.
  • If assault results in permanent injury: Article 338; ‘If anyone physically assaults another person in any manner and the assault leads to illness or the inability to perform his personal work for a period of twenty days, he shall be punished by detention and by a fine. If the result of the assault has not reached the degree of seriousness mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the punishment shall be by detention for a period not exceeding one year and by a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams.’


It can thus be understood that, the UAE laws render strict punishments for the act of assault, depending on the categorization of the assault as either a ‘felony’ or ‘misdemeanor’. In addition, the UAE penal code specifically recognizes certain aggravating circumstances that result in classifying an assault as a ‘felony’. If an assault charges is classified as a felony then, stringent punishments including imprisonment and fines can be imposed.

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