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A. Indecent assault

Indecent assault is an offence contrary to section 122 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200). The maximum punishment is 10 years’ imprisonment.


An indecent assault is an assault coupled with circumstances of indecency. Some conducts are clearly inherently indecent e.g. the touching of genitals without other’s consent. However, it may not always be a clear-cut case for other conducts such as the touching of buttocks or kissing. In such cases, the relationship between the defendant and the victim and the background and the circumstances leading to the conduct may need to be considered as a whole. The prosecution must prove that the: (1) defendant intentionally assaulted the victim; (2) assault, or the assault and the circumstances accompanying it, are capable of being considered by right-minded persons as indecent; and (3) defendant intended to commit an assault as is referred to in (2) above.


A defendant in an indecent assault case may use the other party’s “consent” as a defence, but a person under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to an act that constitutes an indecent assault. “Consent” has to be obtained in good faith and with the victim’s knowledge; if consent is obtained by fraud or deception, it is not obtained in good faith and with the victim’s knowledge. Whether or not the victim has genuinely consented involves a judgment of fact and depends on the circumstances of each case.