ARREST & COURT PROCEDURE

  1. ARRESTUpon arrest, police officers may search you and take you to a nearby Police Station for questioning. After the questioning session, you may be held in a lock-up. Any personal belongings that you have with you will be taken by the Police. A list of these belongings will be recorded and is subject to your confirmation. A copy of this list will also be given to you.back to top
  2. AT THE POLICE STATION
    2.1 Detention upon arrestYou will only be detained for maximum 48 hours.

    • If the Police detains you for more than 48 hours, he will have to prefer the charge via videolink or to bring you to court. In court, the officer must tell the Judge why he wants to detain you further. The Judge will consider the reason(s) given and then decide whether you should be further detained or to be placed on bail.
    • If the Police does not detain you for more than 48 hours, you will be put on Police bail to ensure you come back to the station or to attend Court when told to do so. You will need to get a family member or friend to bail you out.

    Upon being arrested and detained, you are entitled to make a call to your family/lawyer informing them of your arrest.

    Whilst in custody, you will be interviewed at length with breaks in between. You can also be taken to the crime scene. DNA samples, such as blood sample, fingerprint and photo identification are taken of you. Sometimes, you can be asked to take a lie-detector test. Any statement taken from you is called the ‘long statement’. When you are shown your statements, you have to look through the statement and correct the discrepancies and sign at the relevant amendments and at the bottom of the page as indicated by the police officer.

    You can opt for an interpreter to help translate for you at the time of the recording of the statement.

    It is always good practice to record down when you can what you have told the officer before you see your lawyer.

    2.2 Investigations

    Sometimes investigations can take a while, from a few days to a few months, even 1 year to 2 years. It is advisable to co-operate with the police to provide all information you have at hand. If you have any witnesses, Defence or Alibi, it is advisable to inform the investigating officer. Alternatively, you can engage a lawyer to prepare a letter of representation on your behalf. If you have an Alibi, you have to give the full details to your lawyers so that they can do the necessary.

    Once investigations are completed, the police officer will submit the case file to the Prosecution before any decision is made to charge you.

    If a decision is made to charge you, the police officer will contact you. The meeting at the police station will be for the purposes of preferring the charge against you, i.e. reading the charge and asking you if you admit or do not admit to the charge. Even if you do not agree and when the police officer asks you to sign the charge sheet, that does not mean that you are admitting to the charge. It is just a formality. If you choose not to sign on the charge, it will be recorded that you refused to sign it. That is what will happen and does not mean you will face serious consequences for not signing. It is your right.

    The charge is followed by a notice of warning (i.e. cautioned statement) stating that

    “You have been charged of an offence ….. and do you want to say anything ….. if you keep quiet now ….. the Judge may be less likely to believe you …..”

    This basically is an opportunity given to you to state your Defence. So please state all that you can. Do not rush off this by thinking that all has been said in the long statement, thus no need to repeat.

    You can choose to write down your defence or it must be recorded by the investigating officer in the English Language. He will then read it over to you. Should there be any mistakes, you should insist that corrections be made.

    Once you have verified the contents, you must sign it. This will be your Cautioned Statement.

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  3. BAIL
    3.1 What is bail?
    You can be placed on police bail or court bail.Bail is a security (usually financial) given to the Court or Police to ensure that the Accused released on bail returns to court or Police Station when required to do so.How much bail is required varies, depending on the seriousness of the issue. Bail can be increased or decreased anytime by applying to the Court.In the Subordinate Courts, bail applications are processed by the Bail Centre at the Crime Registry.A person under bail cannot leave the country without the permission of the Court or the relevant Police Officer handling the matter.3.2 The BailorThe person providing bail to the Accused is known as a Bailor. The Bailor will be informed of his/her responsibilities, as well as the consequences should the conditions of bail be breached. The Bailor will also be notified of the next mention/trial date and has to ensure the Accused’s Police or Court attendance(s).

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  4. FIRST COURT APPEARANCEOn the police bail bond, you will be informed of the court appearance date. You can instruct lawyers to act on your behalf and your lawyer can attend court with you. Alternatively, if it is too short a notice, you can attend court with your bailor and seek and adjournment to look for a lawyer to represent you. What the court will do is to grant you the adjournment and to extend your police bail or to place you on court bail.All first court appearance (Mentions) are usually at Court. No 23 or 26 located at the Subordinate Courts of Singapore.At the court, the interpreter will call your name out and read the charge to you.Each offence you are alleged to have committed will be listed as a SEPARATE CHARGE.Each charge will contain details of the:
    • Time
    • Location
    • Name(s) of victim(s) and/or
    • Property involved in the alleged offence

    After each charge is read and explained to you, you are then asked how you wish to plead to the charge. You can either admit to the offence (plead guilty) or dispute the offence (plead not guilty).back to top

  5. WHEN CHARGED IN COURT
    5.1 IF PLEADING GUILTY / ADMITTING CHARGEPleading guilty means you fully admit to committing the offence as stated in the charge.Before doing so, it would be wise to have knowledge of the minimum and maximum punishment you may receive for committing the offence.You must accept whatever punishment the Court may give.The Statement of Facts (relating to you/the offence you committed) will then be read out.If you agree, you can plead guilty to the charge. You will be asked if you seek lawyers to help mitigate on your behalf or if you are doing by yourself. If you opt to plead by yourself, you will be sentenced accordingly. Only represent yourself if you are ready to accept the sentences to be meted out to you.If you disagree with any of the facts, you MUST voice it out to the Court. If you disagree with the Statement of Facts with regards to important issues, the Court will NOT accept your plea of guilt. You will be directed to claim trial to the charge.


    5.2 IF UNSURE / NOT SURE

    If you are unsure of what to do, you may wish to consult or be represented by a lawyer. You can then request for a short adjournment from the Court. The court usually grants you an adjournment of 1 to 2 weeks to seek legal help.

    5.3 IF PLEADING NOT GUILTY / DISPUTING CHARGE
    A Pre-trial Conference (PTC) will then be fixed.back to top

  6. PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE(S) [CCDC, CCMS, CCR]A PTC date is given if you dispute the charge or seek time for plea bargaining.What is a PTC?
    A PTC is to update the judge on how the case is progressing, and to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. Trial dates will only be fixed when all parties are ready and prepared for trial.


    AT THE PTC

    • You should decide to make written representations* to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the charge(s) against you. Your lawyers will request time from the Judge.

      *What are written representations?
      These are made for the purpose of appealing to the Attorney-General’s Chambers to withdraw, or reduce the nature and/or number of the charge(s) you are facing. The issue of having the matter compounded or given a stern warning can be considered too.

    • Prosecution will then inform the judge of whatever evidence they have against you, as well as the witness(es) they are going to call to trial. The court can direct the prosecution to file their CASE FOR PROSECUTION. A copy will be served on your lawyers. Thereafter, you have the right to file a CASE FOR DEFENCE (where a case presentation of your Defence is written out, and stating the number of witnesses you are calling). Your lawyer will prepare the paperwork and will serve a copy to the prosecution and a copy to the Judge. The prosecution will then serve a Supplementary Bundle.
    • Your lawyers can request for a plea bargaining or CCMS to discuss the case with the prosecution. Thereafter, further letters of representation can be made to the prosecution on your behalf.
    • The court can direct that the case be fixed for CCR, which is like a “mini-trial” before a senior Judge. This is attended by the prosecution and your lawyer.back to top
  7. TRIAL PROCESS
    Stages of trial:

    • Examination-in-chief
      The Prosecution will present their case by calling their witnesses to stand and asking them questions.
    • Cross Examination
      Your lawyer will be allowed to question the Prosecution’s witness. They can challenge/contradict what the Prosecution’s witness has said with documentary evidence (if any). The challenge will be based on what was said or not said. Your lawyer will also put forth your version of events and check if the Prosecution’s witness agrees with it.
    • Re-Examination
      The Prosecution would then ask their witness further questions, to clarify their answers given to your lawyer during cross examination.

    Submission of no-case to answer

    If you feel that the prosecution has not proven the case against you, you can consult and instruct your lawyers to give a submission on NO CASE.

    The Judge then decides in favour or against.

    When the Court decides that the Prosecution has provided enough evidence, you and your lawyer can:

    • Choose to produce your own evidence and call upon your own witnesses (if any)
    • First, you have to testify on the witness stand on oath.
    • After giving your version of events, the Prosecution will be allowed to ask you questions for the purpose of cross-examination.
    • After you are done, your witnesses may then be called to the stand to provide their statements. They are also subjected to cross-examination by the Prosecution.
    • Your lawyer can then re-examine the witness.
    • To remain silent and not call your defence
    • The Court will use your silence to make their own inferences, some of which might be adverse and against you.back to top
  8. POST TRIAL
    • Making closing submissions
      Both your lawyer and the Prosecution will summarize the evidence and make respective arguments to the Court.
    • The Court then makes its decision on whether you are guilty (convicted) or not guilty (acquitted). The court also has the power to reduce the charge against you.
    • Can you contest the Court’s final decision?

    If you are convicted after a trial, you can appeal against the Court’s decision on your conviction and/or your sentence.

    However, if have you pleaded guilty, you can only appeal against the sentence given to you.

    This appeal must be filed with the Criminal Justice Division’s Registry within 10 calendar days from the date which your verdict was announced.

    Please note: There is no guarantee the appeal will be successful.

    Always consult a lawyer when making such an important decision in your life.

 

Should you have any questions or need legal representation, kindly contact Gloria James-Civetta & Co on 6337-0469 for a free consultation, or email to consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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