Your Rights

What you need to know

In Singapore, an arrest can be made without a warrant when police reasonably suspect a man of committing a serious offence. These offences can include causing serious hurt, rape, robbery, theft, or drug consumption. Alternatively, a warrant may be made out to allow police to make an arrest for a normally non-arrestable offence. For example, when a police report is made about a case of “voluntarily causing hurt”, the police will conduct investigations first before making any arrest.

How much “force” can Police Use

The police will use reasonable force to make an arrest. Handcuffs may be used. If arrested, you have the right to ask the police officer for his identification and the reason for the arrest.

On arrest, the accused may be searched. Women must be searched by women officer.

At the Police Station

At the police station the law allows the accused to consult a lawyer while under police custody, within a reasonable time. Family members may also be contacted. However, these requests can be refused if they interfere with investigations.

The Police can detain the accused for 48 hours at most, but police can obtain a Magistrate’s order if they wish to extend the custody to continue with investigations. In Court the officer must tell the Judge the reason/s why he wants to detain you further. The Judge will consider the reason/s given and then decide whether you are to be further detained.

If the officer does not wish to further detain you, he may let you go on a personal promise or put you on police bail to make sure you go back to the station or attend Court when told to do so.

Can you Remain Silent?

The accused person has the right to remain silent. However, an adverse inference may be drawn and guilt may be inferred if the accused remains silent and does not state his defence, if any at the earliest possible time.

When Can I Be Charged in Court ?

You can be charged in Court only after investigations have been carried out. This investigation is necessary to decide if there is any evidence of a crime having been committed by you.

The following are some of the enforcement agencies that are empowered to conduct Investigations:

  • Police officers
  • Central Narcotics Bureau (‘CNB’) officers
  • Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (‘CPIB’) officers
  • Immigration officers
  • Customs officers
  • Commercial Affairs Department (‘CAD’) officers
  • Any other officers who are given the power to investigate under the Law

Some of the powers of an investigating officer are as follows:

  • To order a person to go to a police station or other place for questioning and for taking of a statement;
  • To record what you have to say and ask you to sign it;
  • To search a place and take away things to be used as evidence;
  • To seize properties which may be exhibits in the case.

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


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