What is Criminal Law Part 1: The Basics

Criminal law is described as a set of rules prohibiting certain actions — the breach of these rules will result in punishment.

A crime is defined as a wrong, usually a moral wrong, which affects the security or well-being of the public. There are also crimes that may be criminal, rather than civil, that can be determined to be a crime by Parliament.

In Singapore, the Penal Code (Chapter 224, 185 Ed) is the principal statute giving the definition and punishment of offences in addition to other statutory enactments for specific offences.

What Are Civil and Criminal Proceedings?

A civil proceeding can be a lawsuit, or a non-criminal legal action by an individual or company against someone for causing them some loss, harm or injury. Examples include a breach of contract, encroachment or negligence leading to an accident. Other similar terms for this procedure that you may find familiar include civil action and civil suit.

A criminal proceeding is usually instituted by the State, as a means of deducing the necessary punishment for a party who has committed a crime. Criminal proceedings are not used as a means of enforcing a civil right.

One way to distinguish them from each other would be to ascertain if the proceedings will result in the punishment of a party. If yes, then it will be considered a crime regardless of the consequences.

Civil procedures usually lead to recovery of money or other property, or an enforcement of a right or advantage on behalf of the plaintiff such as a Personal Protection Order (P.P.O) or custody of a child.

Legal Punishment

At the end of each criminal proceeding, legal punishment is meted out in a process instituted by The Attorney-General as Public Prosecutor.

Standards are in place to ensure punishments are done in accordance with the law and with the established judicial processes. The Public Prosecutor has the control and sets the direction of all criminal prosecutions in Singapore.

To know more about what we do, or to get a consultation, feel free to contact us to speak to our team of lawyers led by Amarjit Singh Sidhu.

Amarjit has vast experience in Singapore’s laws and has defended numerous clients, including some highly-publicised criminal cases. He has guided clients over the years with his deep knowledge, as well as his compassionate approach, and supported by a strong team of lawyers.

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