Criminal is a subset of Singaporean law meant to protect the public and enforce social order. Criminal law enforces rules that prevent violence or injustice towards fellow citizens and punishes those who step out of line. A person accused of a crime has the chance to defend themselves by getting a criminal lawyer in Singapore to build a case for them.
Circumstances and day-to-day experiences differ from person to person. There may come a time when you’ll need a criminal lawyer for a case. That’s why it’s crucial to know the basics of criminal law and what cases a criminal law firm in Singapore is willing to take.
This simplified guide goes through some cases that a criminal law firm in Singapore accepts. It will also summarise the process of a criminal case and the parties involved in one. If you ever run into a situation where you need defending in a criminal case, you’ll be able to identify where your case falls under and what your next steps will be.
List Of Criminal Defence Offences
- Penal Code
The Penal Code includes the most general principles of criminal law in Singapore. It is the most well-known aspect of criminal law, and every criminal law firm in Singapore will accept a case covered by the Penal Code. It details many different crimes and the maximum punishment for each. It has over 500 sections and 24 chapters, but common examples of the crimes covered by the Penal Code include the following:
- Intimidation and assault
- Drunk driving
- Sexual assault
- Theft and robbery
- Endangering a minor (grooming, assault, selling obscene items, etc.)
While the Penal Code covers many crimes, they still have separate acts, such as the Road Traffic Act, Prevention of Harassment Act and Sexual Crimes, and Misuse of Drugs Act.
If the accusation isn’t on the list, try to find it in the complete Penal Code. You can also ask your criminal lawyer in Singapore if the Penal Code covers your case.
- Prevention of Corruption Act
Corruption is fraudulent or dishonest conduct, usually made by people in power to take advantage of their position. Bribery is the most common form of corruption, wherein the perpetrator offers money, property, or services in exchange for a favour. Other crimes in this section include money laundering, forgery, and copyright infringement.
- Immigration Act
While this act covers immigration as a whole, it also covers illegal immigrants – citizens who either entered the country without proper documentation or citizens who have surpassed the number of days they are allowed to stay. Illegal immigrants are allowed to find a criminal lawyer in Singapore to defend their case, even if they don’t have the proper documentation.
- Employment of Foreign Manpower Act
This act covers employers of foreign employees and employees that have received a work pass from the Ministry of Manpower. Offences for employers include employing a foreign employee who doesn’t own a valid work pass or deducting employment costs from a foreign employee’s salary. Foreign employees can face charges for providing false information when applying for a work pass or obtaining a work pass for a business that does not exist.
- Juvenile Crimes
Juvenile crimes are those committed by a child aged 10 to 16. Parents of an accused child can still find a criminal lawyer in Singapore who can defend them. The Youth Court will try these crimes instead of the State Court or Supreme Court.
How Does A Criminal Case Play Out?
It helps to know the process of a criminal case, especially when you are the defendant. Your criminal lawyer in Singapore will also help you understand the process, but this is a condensed version.
- The proceedings begin with the arrest of the defendant. A police officer would arrest the defendant if they witnessed the defendant commit a crime or have the evidence to believe that the defendant committed a crime.
- The defendant must attend any court proceedings. These may include court mentions, pre-trial conferences, criminal case disclosure conferences, and the trial.
- The court may offer bail in some cases. The defendant can contact family or friends to pay the bail or pay for it themselves. After bail payment, custody will temporarily release the defendant while they await court sessions.
- A trial will continue if the defendant pleads innocent and wishes to defend themselves from the accusation. If the defendant has hired a criminal lawyer from Singapore, they will argue that the defendant is innocent.
- If the defendant admits to the crime before or during the trial, they will be convicted and sentenced. A conviction is an official declaration that the defendant has committed a crime. A sentence is a punishment given to the defendant for their crime. A criminal lawyer from Singapore can reduce the charges or negotiate a lesser sentence.
- If any parties involved with the case are unsatisfied with the decision made by the court, they can file an appeal.
What Are The Parties Involved In A Criminal Case?
There are five parties involved in a criminal case.
The accused, or the defendant, is the one facing the charges for a crime. While the defendant can be self-represented, they could also contact a criminal law firm in Singapore for the trial.
While in a case, a criminal lawyer is also called the defence counsel. The lawyer has the experience needed to either win the case for the defendant or minimise their charges and punishment if proven guilty.
The prosecutor tries to prove to the court that the defendant is guilty of their charges. They argue against the defendant and the criminal lawyer from Singapore and provide evidence to support their argument.
The judges and judicial officers are impartial parties who must listen to both sides of the argument and determine the case’s outcome.
Finally, witnesses who saw the crime may have to give a statement or testimony to the court.
There are more facets to criminal law than what is in this guide. While this only covers the basics, it’s best to seek consultation with a criminal law firm in Singapore for professional legal advice.
Aspect Law Chamber offers legal services for several law subsets. If you need a criminal or probate lawyer from Singapore, Aspect Law Chamber is ready to fight the good fight with you. Check their website for more information.