A Quick Guide to Singapore’s Military Justice System

MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE SINGAPORE ARMED FORCES

For active military personnel and/or National Servicemen in Singapore, terms like ‘Court Martial’ and ‘Summary Trial’ would be familiar as they are processes within the military justice system applicable to all Singapore Armed Forces personnel.

All servicemen/women are subjected to the military justice system which is based on the SAF Act (Cap 295). Offenders can be dealt with by informal or formal punishment systems, depending on the case.

Here are a few commonly-used processes and terms in the military justice system and what they mean.

Summary Trial:

This is for military offences, such as absence without leave, non-compliance with lawful orders, and insubordination. Failure to complete your IPPT over repeated warnings could also lead to a summary trial. Possible sentences may include fines or detention.

General Court Martial:

The General Court Martial [GCM] deals with a wider range of offences, with punishments including imprisonment and discharge, on top of sentences like detention and fines. The GCM is also a more public and open forum, and its proceedings are conducted using similar legal rules and procedures as those used in a civilian criminal court. Offences covered by the GCM include drug-related offences, cheating and assault.

Offenders are usually punished via one of these systems:

  1. Informal Punishment System – Commanders are empowered to mete out informal punishment or administrative orders like extra duties;

  2. Formal Punishment System – for serious offences. The offender can be dealt with by way of a summary trial or before the Subordinate Court Martial;

Representation

In a General Court Martial, the offender may choose to be represented by a criminal lawyer or an SAF Defending Officer. The Criminal Lawyer will submit representations to AGC and the Director Legal, MINDEF for the matter to be withdrawn, compounded etc.

Bail

An accused person who has been detained may apply for bail, pending investigation or appeal. If the application is successful, the offender will be released from detention, and entrusted to the custody of the person who posted bail – similar to the bail process in a civilian court. To know more about what bail is, click here.

How We Can Help

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu has represented servicemen, both NSMen and Regular Servicemen facing some of the following charges at the SAF Court Martial:

  1. Drug consumption/possession;
  2. Drug trafficking;
  3. Theft;
  4. Dishonest misappropriation of SAF property;
  5. Unlawful arrest;
  6. Damage to and loss of SAF property;
  7. Endangering life or property;

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, including military law, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation.

If you need more information, do reach out to us using the form here.

Press Coverage

MR AMARJIT SINGH SIDHU REPRESENTS MAN GIVEN 9 WEEKS JAIL FOR MOLESTING WOMAN ON MRT TRAIN

Case reported in “The Straits Times” 10/6/2016

An Indian national, 37,  who is a Singapore PR, pleaded guilty to standing behind and rubbing himself repeatedly against a 21-year-old woman on the train travelling from City Hall to Bugis MRT station last year.

A court heard that the victim boarded the train at City Hall at about 6pm that day and was going to meet her boyfriend at Bugis.

As the train was crowded, she stood close to the middle of the cabin, which is where he then positioned himself behind her.

When she moved towards the train doors to distance herself, the accused then followed and kept rubbing himself against her buttocks.

When the train arrived at the Bugis MRT station, she told her boyfriend about the incident and they reported it to the SMRT staff.

Mr Amarjit said that client’s wife and his young daughter had been receiving financial help from the Ministry of Social and Family Development for quite some time.

Our client was deeply remorseful and felt that he had let his family, friends and most importantly, himself, down.

A second similar charge was taken into consideration in sentencing.

Sentence:
The unemployed man was jailed for nine weeks on the molestation charge. He could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned or received any combined punishment.

MR AMARJIT SINGH SIDHU REPRESENTS MAN CHARGED WITH SEX WITH A MINOR

Case reported in “News Outlets” 26/4/2012 51 men have been charged with having commercial sex with an underage escort. These 51 men include a teacher, who is represented by Mr Amarjit

51 men have been charged with having commercial sex with an underage escort.

These 51 men include a teacher, who is represented by Mr Amarjit Singh.

The man had stumbled into the online vice ring when he came across the website of the pimp in 2010.

The pimp explicitly told the girls that they were to provide sexual services to customers. If they agreed, he would proceed to assign each woman a working moniker which would be uploaded on the website.

Customers who wanted to have sex with any of the escorts advertised would contact him via mobile phone listed on the website.

From the website, the man found the minor’s picture and a listing stating her age as 18. However, she was only 17 years old.

The man then arranged to have sex with her at a hotel and paid her $650 for a 90-minute session.

Defence counsel, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, stated in the mitigation that his client had been awarded a Public Service Commission scholarship in teaching in 1998. Furthermore, it was added that he had been an outstanding teacher since June 2006.

Mr Amarjit Singh was successful in getting a lower sentence for his client. The accused received a reduced sentence of a jail term of three months. He could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.

Ex-advertising Director jailed 12 months for sex with a minor

Reported in “The Straits Times” 21/01/2014

The accused was charged with 2 counts of sexual penetration of a minor.

The minor chanced upon the accused’s profile on a website, which stated that he engaged in “bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism” (BDSM). He stated that he was looking for a submissive partner and the minor initiated contact with him. They both started communicating via e-mail and she revealed her true age to him. Within a week, the minor went to the accused’s flat and consented to the accused performing BDSM acts. They engaged in those acts again a month later.

Defence counsel Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, stated in his mitigation that the accused was from a respectable family and he was deeply remorseful of his actions. Mr Amarjit was successful in receiving a reduced sentence for his client. The accused was sentenced to a jail term of 12 months. He could have been jailed for 10 years and fined.

DRUNK MAN MOLESTS WOMAN ON FLIGHT AND KICKS 2 POLICEMEN – DEFENDED BY MR AMARJIT SINGH SIDHU

Reported in “The New Paper” 02/05/2015.

The accused was a passenger on board British Airways on 3rd March.

While the plane was taxiing on the runway of Changi Airport, the accused started touching the female passenger next to him. The victim pushed him away but he continued to put his arm around her and tried to kiss her.

The flight returned back to the gate where two cops arrested the accused. He struggled with the officers and in the process, he kicked one of the officers on his left jaw and the other officer in his face. It was revealed that his blood contained 224mg of ethanol per 100ml.

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu urged the judge to consider a fine to be imposed on our client. The fact that the accused had no prior antecedents in Singapore and in Australia was considered. The Deputy Public Prosecutor submitted a total sentence of between a three and four month’s jail term. Mr Amarjit was successful in attaining a more lenient sentence of 2 months and 3 weeks in jail for our client.

Vietnamese student, 22, jailed for taking upskirt videos

Reported 25 May 2015

SINGAPORE – A 22-year-old Vietnamese student was jailed for three weeks on Monday for taking upskirt videos of women.

Last September, he had stuck his Samsung Galaxy mobile phone under the skirts of women in busy public areas such as post offices and MRT stations and filmed them.

He was charged with four counts of insulting the modesty of these women, with two charges proceeded on.

He had been studying at a local university for two years, was arrested on Sept 16 last year when he took two videos of a Peruvian woman at a Pasir Panjang post office.

He had been there to post a parcel to his friend in Germany. In the queue, he spotted the victim, 27, found her attractive, and decided to film her.

The victim had been writing the address on a parcel when she felt a piece of plastic brushing against her leg.

His lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said in mitigation that his client was a first-time offender, that he was remorseful, and that this would be his last brush with the law.

He added that he had an internship with a reputable company and would be starting an exchange programme on a Ministry tuition grant soon, and that a custodial sentence would deprive him of these opportunities.

Law prof who attacked cabby sentenced to 4 months’ jail, ordered to pay compensation – defended by Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu

Reported 26 June 2015 on Todayonline

SINGAPORE — For assaulting a taxi driver while drunk on Christmas Day in 2013, an assistant law professor was sentenced to four months in jail today (June 26) and ordered to pay compensation of $1500 to the 70 years old taxi-driver.

Tourist jailed for molest offences in hostels

Reported in the Straits Times 6 Sep 2013

SINGAPORE – An American tourist was sentenced to nine months in jail on Wednesday for insulting and outraging the modesty of five women at backpacker hostels. He preyed on his victims at four hostels between April and June while on a 90-day social visit pass to the Republic. Court documents showed that, among five charges, He had used his mobile phone to film a 23-year-old Chinese woman taking a shower on May 19. He had put his phone on top of the partition wall dividing an adjoining cubicle. Lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu told The Straits Times that the man had declined to be legally represented as he wanted to complete his sentence and return to his wife and two children in the Philippines. Mr Singh said he was present to conduct a “watching brief” for the US Embassy.

Man jailed 18 weeks for animal cruelty

Reported in the Straits Times Mar 14, 2017

He first threw a cat from the 10th floor of a block of flats in Tampines.

When he found that the cat was still alive, he slammed it on the ground to make sure that it died. He works as a supervisor in the food and beverage industry, was yesterday jailed for 18 weeks on two counts of animal cruelty on May 26 last year.

His lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, said the man was deeply remorseful for his actions and regretted mistreating the cat and causing its death.

In mitigation, he said the man was a first-time offender and was not likely to do it again as he was ashamed to have caused embarrassment to his family. He could have been fined up to $15,000 and/or jailed for up to 18 months on each charge.

Man jailed for filming family members bathing and colleagues in toilet

Reported in Yahoo News 14 June 2018

He filmed four of his family members bathing using a pinhole camera in the shape of a clothes hanger. He also took upskirt videos of his colleagues and videos of them in the toilet using a mobile phone. The man, who cannot be named to protect the victims’ identities, pleaded guilty to various offences in the State Courts on Thursday (14 June). He admitted to 12 charges in total – 10 of insulting the modesty of women, one charge of wrongful restraint, and one charge of possessing obscene films – and was sentenced to nine months and one week’s jail. Twenty-eight other charges of insulting modesty, criminal trespass, and possessing obscene films were taken into consideration. Of the 11 identified victims, seven were his colleagues. A number of the victims were unknown. The court documents didn’t specify the relationships between the man and his family members. The man’s lawyer, Amarjit Singh Sidhu, asked for leniency as his client had cooperated fully with investigations and did not upload the videos online.

Accounts executive jailed 7.5 years for fraud involving S$2.3 million
Reported on Channel News Asia on 21 June 2016

She had abused her position to forge cheques and misappropriate cash belonging to her employers. She pocketed S$2,376,641 from two employers over about three years. A 53-year-old woman who forged hundreds of cheques and misappropriated thousands of dollars in cash was sentenced to 7.5 years’ jail on Tuesday (Jun 21).
She, an accounts executive, had pocketed S$2,376,641 from two employers over about three years. She pleaded guilty to 40 out of 380 counts, the bulk of which were for cheque forgery. Her lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said his client had been struggling financially because of a gambling addiction. The client, who is married with three children, was the main breadwinner of the family and also supported her brother and sister, who live with her, Mr Singh said. Her lawyer added that she is remorseful, and urged the court to show compassion “in light of her unfortunate and regrettable set of circumstances” at the time.

For forgery, she could have faced up to 15 years’ jail per charge, and ordered to pay a fine. Similarly, for criminal breach of trust, she could have been jailed up to 15 years per charge, and ordered to pay a fine.

Jail for Man who sexually penetrated a Minor
reported in the straits times on 3 July 2017

A 34-year-old who befriended a 13-year-old girl online in 2014 and got her to perform oral sex on him, was jailed for 13 months on Friday (June 30).

The student had consented to the act. The man who was then 32, had pleaded guilty to sexual penetration of a person below 16 years of age.

Sometime in 2014, he came to know the victim via an online platform. After chatting about sex, he asked to meet her so that she could perform fellatio on him. Prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 15 months to be imposed, but defence lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said a sentence of 12 months’ jail would be appropriate. Counsel said his client had always been a law-abiding citizen before the incident, and is extremely remorseful for his actions. “He deeply regrets what he has done and the embarrassment that he has caused to his family,” he said. He could have been jailed for up to 20 years, fined or caned for the offence.

Prison officer convicted of molesting male inmate

Veteran prison officer convicted of repeatedly molesting inmate. When inmate protested, he said: ‘Officer sayang you’,

Reported in the new paper 25 June 2016

The prison officer of 27 years, was yesterday convicted on nine counts of outrage of modesty after an eight-day trial. The court heard that the man molested the inmate three times on Oct 16 by patting his right buttock and then rubbing his private parts. The man’s lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, earlier told the court that his client had denied committing any molest. Denying that the man had patted the inmate’s buttock on Oct 16, he said his client had instead tapped the side of the inmate’s hip to make him complete his work faster.

Mr Singh also said that the man had accidentally tapped the inmate’s groin area that day. “It is also highly unlikely and improbable that the accused, an experienced officer, would risk his career and life by doing the acts alleged under the very noses of his superiors, Mr Singh added. For each count of outrage of modesty, he can be jailed up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of such punishments.

Two men jailed for separate cases of molestation

Reported in the straits time 31 Aug 2017.

A part-time waiter put his hand through a gap between the seats on a bus and touched a woman’s chest last year.

He was jailed for six months on Thursday (Aug 31), for outraging the modesty of the victim. Another similar charge was taken into consideration in sentencing. He committed his offence on the upper level of a double-decker bus on Aug 13 last year.

Initially, the 31-year-old victim did not pay much attention to it and thought it might have been her hair. But when she felt another touch on the side of her right breast, she turned around and saw the man, who retracted his hand, which had been next to the victim. His lawyer lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu said in mitigation that his client has adjustment disorder and had been to the Institute of Mental Health for consultation. The maximum penalty for outrage of modesty is two years’ jail, a fine, caning or any combined punishment.

Chilean trio jailed for theft in Singapore

Reported in the Santiago Times on 27 Nov 2017

SINGAPORE – A court in Singapore has sentenced three Chileans to jail for using criminal force and stealing cash from two men, local media reported on Monday.

Two of them – were each sentenced to 12 months’ jail for two counts of theft and one of using criminal force. Both have a few similar convictions back home.

The third, represented by Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, was given eight months’ jail for the same offences. All three pleaded guilty, the Straits Times reported.

Jailed for raping teen in his car

The New Paper 25 Aug 2013

SINGAPORE – The girl was just 16 years old when he raped her in the backseat of his car in July 2010.

He had spotted the schoolgirl having sex with her boyfriend in another car and given her an ultimatum: Follow him or he would report them to the police for littering – for the tissues and condom that had been thrown out of their car. Following a six-day trial, the man was sentenced on Friday to 12 years jail and 12 strokes of the cane after the court found him guilty of three of four charges. The man , who was represented by lawyers Amarjit Singh Sidhu and Foo Cheow Ming, will be appealing against his conviction and sentence.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Maintenance of Spouse and Children in Singapore

You will need to attend in person, at level 1 of the Family justice Courts, to apply for the following:

    • Maintenance for yourself and/or child/children;
    • To vary an existing Maintenance Order;
    • To rescind an existing Order;
    • To enforce an existing Order [a situation where the spouse ordered to provide maintenance has neglected or failed to do so

First Step: Apply for maintenance, rescission, suspension or enforcement of an existing maintenance order

You will need the following documents:

    • Your identity card;
    • Photocopy of your marriage certificate;
    • Photocopy of the birth certificate(s) of your child/children (if applicable); and
    • Photocopy of the Order of Court that you wish to enforce

Who is the Complainant and the Respondent?

The “Complainant” is the person applying for maintenance. The “Respondent” is the person against whom you are filing the application for maintenance.

After submitting your application for maintenance (in the form of a Magistrate’s Complaint), you must swear or affirm your complaint before a Magistrate or District Judge – confirming the information you have provided is true and correct.

If your application is in order, a summons will be issued to the respondent. You pay a nominal sum of S$1.00 for the issuance of the summons.

 A letter will be sent to the Respondent for him or her to accept the summons at the Maintenance Registry of the Family Justice Courts on a stipulated date (also known as service date) and time.

Court Mention and Mediation

During your next Court appearance, parties may be sent to Mediation to try and reach a settlement. If there is no settlement, parties will be referred to Court 1 for the Judge to give directions to file their respective affidavits / statements or proof that they wish to rely upon at the trial.

The documents you will need to present will be as follows:

    • Parties’ bank and CPF statements, salary slips, IRAS Notices of Assessments and lists of personal monthly expenses;
    • Determine if Parties are calling any witnesses.
    • If it is an Enforcement application, the Judge may ask the Respondent to show cause [explain to Court why he /she has neglected/failed to pay maintenance].

If you fail to turn up on any of your Court dates, including the date for service of the summons on the Respondent, your application may be struck out. This means that you will have to file another Magistrate’s Complaint, and the same fees will apply.

If you are the Respondent, your failure to turn up in court on the Mention date will result in the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against you.

Trial Proceedings

At the trial, parties would generally go through the following:

  • The Complainant takes the stand; is affirmed and she is cross examined by the Respondent or the Lawyer;
  • The Respondent then takes the stand, is affirmed and is cross examined by the Complainant or the lawyer.

After the Trial the Magistrate or District Judge will make the necessary orders.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

 

What is Probation

Probation is a community-based sentencing option by the court. It is an alternative to penal or corrective sentences that are carried out in juvenile homes or prison.

Who is eligible for Probation?

Under section 5 of the Probation of Offenders Act, you are generally eligible for probation if you are:

    • A first-time offender;
    • Older than 16 years of age and younger than 21 years of age;
    • Charged with an offence with either a mandatory minimum sentence OR a specified minimum sentence, and NOT an offence with sentence fixed by law.

The differences between the 3 types of offences mentioned in the previous point are as follows:

Offences with sentences that are fixed by law

Offenders who have committed an offence with a sentence that is fixed by law will not be eligible for probation.

An offence with a sentence “fixed by law” means that its sentence is fixed in quantum (duration or amount payable) and in type.

For example, if you have been charged with an offence which:

“shall be punishable with a $2,000 fine”

as prescribed by law, the court must impose a $2,000 fine on you.  Probation will not be an available alternative for you.

Offences with a mandatory minimum sentence

Offenders who have committed offences with a mandatory minimum sentence may be eligible for probation.

An offence with a mandatory minimum sentence is one where:

The law has prescribed a minimum quantum for a particular type of sentence; and the imposition of the type of sentence is mandatory.

For example, if you have been charged with an offence with a mandatory minimum sentence prescribed by the law to be:

“…shall be punished with imprisonment of at least 5 years and up to 15 years”

the court must impose the imprisonment sentence on you. However, the court can choose to vary the duration of the sentence from anywhere between 5 years and 15 years as prescribed by law.

Notwithstanding this mandatory minimum sentence, probation may remain an alternative sentencing option at the court’s discretion.

What if I am 21 years old or older. Does this mean I will not get Probation?

Do note that while probation is commonly ordered for those under the age of 21, the court may also order probation for offenders above the age of 21, provided that the offence is not one for which a specified minimum sentence, mandatory minimum sentence, fine or caning is prescribed by the law.

As the main sentencing principle underlying probation is rehabilitation, the court will consider whether you are capable of reform and, if so, whether probation will be most suited for helping you achieve reform.

There are several factors that the court will consider when deciding whether to grant probation:

    • The nature and severity of the offence;
    • Your character; and
    • A Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) prepared by the Probation Officer from the Ministry of Social and Family [MSF] containing background information on the offender’s family, education/work, social activity and attitude.

How Long Does Probation Last?

The probation period may range from 6 months to 3 years, which will be specified in the Probation Order. During this time, you will be placed under the supervision of a Probation Officer. The Parents will be bonded to ensure good behaviour.

The subject may also be electronically tagged, have a time restriction and asked to perform community service and attend programs fixed by the Probation Branch tailored to address the needs of the probationer.

What Happens in the event I Breach the Probation Order?

A breach of the Probation Order occurs when you do not comply with the conditions stated in the Probation Order. If so, you may be given warnings by the Probation Officer. You may even be taken to court, where the following may occur:

The probation order may be amended;

Or it can be revoked and you will be sentenced for the initial offence for which you were placed on probation.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Family Violence in Singapore

Amarjit Sidhu Law

What is Family Violence?

Family violence consists of the following:

    • Wilfully or knowingly placing, or attempting to place, a family member in fear of hurt
    • Causing hurt to a family member by an act which is known or ought to have been known will result in hurt
      • Wrongful confining or restraining a family member against his will
    • Continual harassment with intent to cause or knowing that it is likely to cause anguish to a family member.

This is provided for by the Women’s Charter (CAP. 353), Section 64.

Who can apply for a Personal Protection Order (PPO)?

You can apply for a PPO against a family member who is related to you in any of the following manners:

    • Spouse or ex-spouse;
    • Child, including an adopted child or stepchild;
    • Parent;
    • In-law;
    • Sibling;
    • Any other relative who the court may regard as a member of your family

This is provided for by the Women’s Charter (CAP. 353), Section 64.

APPLICATION FOR PPO AT THE FAMILY PROTECTION CENTRE IN FAMILY JUSTICE COURT

If you have a police report or a medical report, you should have them with you when you make the complaint. You can still file a complaint without these reports.

Who is the Complainant and the Respondent?

The “Complainant” is the person filing the application for the Personal Protection Order. The “Respondent” is the person against whom you are filing the application for the Personal Protection Order.

After submitting your application for maintenance (in the form of a Magistrate’s Complaint), you must swear or affirm your complaint before a Magistrate or District Judge – confirming the information you have provided is true and correct

If your application is in order, a summons will be issued to the respondent.

Service of the Summons

You will have to pay the prescribed fee for the issuance of the summons.

The Court’s process server will serve the summons personally on the respondent at the address you have provided in your Magistrate’s Complaint.

Note:

The summons cannot be served on a Respondent who is not in Singapore.

If you fail to turn up on any of your Court dates, your application may be struck out. This means that you will have to file another Magistrate’s Complaint, and the same fees will apply.

If you are the Respondent, your failure to turn up in court will result in the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against you. 

 Court Mention / Counselling

During your next Court appearance, your case will be mentioned in Family Justice Courts 1 before a District Judge, who may refer parties to proceed for counselling with a professional Court Counsellor.

If there is no settlement, parties will be referred to Court 1 for the Judge to give directions to file their respective affidavits / statements or proof that they wish to rely upon at the trial.

What is an Undertaking:

The Respondent can give an undertaking not to commit family violence. When the Respondent gives an undertaking, the Court will record the undertaking. An undertaking does not mean there is a PPO Order granted.

Trial Proceedings

During the trial, parties would generally go through the following:

The Complainant takes the stand; is affirmed and she is cross examined by the Respondent or the Lawyer;

The Respondent then takes the stand, is affirmed and is cross examined by the Complainant or the lawyer.

After the Trial the Magistrate or District Judge will make the necessary orders. If the Judge has made a counselling order in addition to a personal protection order, your case will be fixed for review in Family Justice Courts 1 in three to six months’ time. Mandatory counselling is conducted by counsellors appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)

What other orders can the Court make in a family violence case?

Expedited Order (EO) is a temporary PPO given if there is imminent danger. EO lasts for 28 days from the date it was served to the respondent and for period(s) as extended by the Court each time Parties attend a Court Mention

Domestic Exclusion Order (DEO) This when ordered excludes or restricts the respondent from entering the applicant’s residence or parts of the residence.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, including Family Law, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

A Quick and Simple Guide on Singapore Law for Expatriates

Singapore – the beautiful city in the tropics is considered to be safe with a low crime rate. Expatriates working in Singapore are expected to be aware of the laws and legislations here as ignorance of the law is not a defense. Penalties for crimes in Singapore are often more severe as compared to those of other western countries.

Expatriates should be careful not to commit any of the following common offences:

    • Driving whilst under intoxication ($1000 to $5000 fine or up to 6 months prison for 1st offence);
    • Using mobile-phone while driving (up to $1000 fine or up to 6 months prison or both for 1st offence);
    • Careless/reckless driving (up to $3000 fine or 12 months prison or both for 1st offence);
    • Unauthorised consumption and/or possession of drugs (up to 10 years or $20,000 fine or both);
    • Commercial sex with minor under 18 (up to 7 years or fine or both);
    • Theft (up to 3 years or fine or both);
    • Shoplifting (up to 7 years and liable to fine);
    • Computer Theft (up to $5000 fine or up to 2 years or both for 1st offence);
    • Cheating or Fraud (up to 3 years or fine or both);
    • Forgery or False documents (up to 4 years or fine or both).
    • The following offences are especially serious and are punishable with imprisonment and caning:
    • Illegal entry or overstaying your visa by more than 90 days (up to 6 months and, up to 3 strokes or fine up to $6,000);
    • Vandalism (up to 3 years or $2000 fine and, liable for 3-8 strokes);
    • Outrage of modesty (i.e. molestation) (up to 2 years, liable for caning);
    • Rape (up to 20 years, liable to fine or caning);
    • Kidnapping (up to 10 years, liable to fine or caning);
    • Robbery (2 to 14 years, min. 6 strokes caning);
    • Unauthorised possession of firearm (5 to 14 years, min. 6 strokes).
    • These serious crimes attract the death penalty:
    • Trafficking, manufacturing, importing or exporting more than 15 g of heroin, 30 g of morphine, 30g of cocaine, 500 g of cannabis, 200 g of cannabis resin and 1.2 kg of opium;
    • Murder.

Common Questions

What are the consequences of being charged or investigated?

If you are charged or investigated for an offence by the police, there is potential for significant disruption to your life and working schedule as you may need to take urgent leave to attend mandatory interviews at the police station during investigations. You could be detained for up to 48 hours when you are initially arrested. During this period, you may not be allowed to contact a lawyer or family member immediately and this puts your job at risk due to ‘mysterious disappearance’.

Furthermore, if you are offered bail, you will have to find a Singaporean or Permanent Resident surety willing to act as your bailor and having the means to furnish your bail.

Will I be allowed to travel if my passport is detained?

If you are offered bail, your passport will have to be surrendered and you will have to seek permission from the police or the Court before you can travel. They may also impose additional bail conditions such as requiring your travel details and increasing the bail amount significantly.

This may affect your ability to serve the functions of your job if you often need to travel on short notice or if your application to travel is altogether refused (See: Bail, para 4(a).

Will it affect my working visa?

Being charged may affect your ability to review your working visa with the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) especially if your employment pass is due to expire. You may instead be issued with a temporary “special pass” which has to be renewed on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This would mean frequent visits to the police station and MOM, to have the visa renewed.

You may also attract a “blacklist” which will affect your future employment prospects in Singapore.

Am I in breach of any of my employment contract terms and conditions?

This will depend on the specific terms of your particular employment contract and the code of conduct set by your employer. Generally, most employment contracts do state misconduct or conviction in a court of law as grounds for dismissal.

Even if your employer does not dismiss you, you may face difficulty with renewal of your employment pass when it is due for expiry and a failure to obtain such pass would preclude you from being in Singapore.

When should I inform my employer of my circumstances?

Unless the terms of your employment require so, there is no requirement for you to inform your employers of your circumstances as the result of the investigations could eventually mean that you are innocent.

However, if you intend to plead guilty, you would likely need to inform your employer and may also wish to obtain a testimonial letter in support of your mitigation plea to ask the court for leniency in sentencing for the offence.

When do I engage a lawyer?

You should engage a lawyer the moment investigations begin. Do not delay.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients, both locals and expats over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

New Sentencing Benchmarks for Child Molest Cases

New Sentencing Benchmarks for Child Molest Cases

A new judgment released on Tuesday, 21 November 2017 comes down harder on perpetrators of aggravated outrage of modesty cases involving children below 14 years of age.

The Case

Justice See Kee Oon dismissed an appeal by a 45-year-old Singaporean man, who had molested his then 13-year-old niece in the confines of his home in 2014. The judge increased the man’s jail term to 25 months, just 2 months shorter than what the prosecution had argued for in its cross-appeal. The man was also subjected to 4 strokes of the cane, unchanged from his original sentence.

The man, who is married with no children, had invited his niece over to his house in the afternoon of 10 February 2014. This was on the pretext that it would be more conducive for her to do her school work there. Her parents were not there as they had been involved in a domestic dispute the previous day. The man and his niece were alone in the house, after his wife had left for work.

While sitting next to the niece on the sofa in the living room, he started fondling her breasts and touching her private parts. She had objected, but had later complied out of fear. The man was first sentenced by a District Judge in May this year after a five-day trial.

The New Guidelines

Justice See believes that a ‘significant uplift is necessary’ for such offences. In giving the grounds for his judgment, he provided that the court should first ascertain 3 categories of aggravating factors:

    1. Degree of sexual exploitation (i.e. how and where the victim was molested and duration of act) → For instance, the offence is aggravated if there is skin-to-skin contact
    2. Circumstances of the offence (e.g. the use of force or violence; the abuse of a position of trust)
    3. Harm caused to victim (e.g. physical; psychological)

After assessing the gravity of the situation, the court should then place the offence within one of three bands to determine the appropriate punishment:

    • FIRST BAND: the lowest end of the spectrum of seriousness, with at most one aggravating factor. For example, a fleeting touch or caress. This would stipulate a jail term of less than one year.
    • SECOND BAND: two or more aggravating factors. For example, contact with the victim’s private parts. Notably, skin-to-skin contact with the victim’s private parts as well as contact with the victim’s private parts over clothing, both fall within this band, with the former attracting an obviously higher sentence. This would stipulate a jail term of 1-3 years, accompanied with at least 3 strokes of the cane (suggested).
    • THIRD BAND: aggravating factors considered to be more serious than that punishable under the second band. This would stipulate a jail term of 3-5 years accompanied with at least 6 strokes of the cane (suggested).

Final Sentence (Applying guidelines)

Based on the aggravating factors in the present case, Justice See found that the man’s conduct fell within the middle to upper range of the second band, inviting a sentence of at least 24 months. He noted that the sexual exploitation lasted for a “substantial period” and there was a degree of premeditation, as well as abuse of a position of trust.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

New Guidelines on Rape Sentencing

New sentencing framework for rape offences

Singapore’s apex court recently laid down a new sentencing framework for rape offences in Ng Kean Meng Terence v Public Prosecutor. Noting that it was timely to review the current state of sentencing laws with regard to rape offences, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Justices of Appeal Chao Hick Tin and Andrew Phang laid down the law in their 60-page decision, in early May 2017.

This represents a significant shift from the previous sentencing framework, which Singapore criminal lawyers are very familiar with, put in place 10 years ago in the seminal case of Public Prosecutor v NF. The new sentencing framework is broadly based off the “two-step sentencing bands approach” as observed  in the New Zealand Court of Appeal case of R v Taueki.

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Ng Kean Meng Terence v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGCA 37

Public Prosecutor v NF [2006] 4 SLR(R) 849

R v Taueki [2005] 3 NZLR 372

The New Framework

The new framework is as follows:

    1. Classification of the offence and identifying the sentencing band the offence in question falls within, takes into consideration  offence-specific” factors. Once the sentencing band is identified, the court will then determine precisely where the offence falls within that range. This is in order to derive an “indicative starting point“.
    2. Calibrating the appropriate sentence with regards to “offender-specific” factors, which are personal to the offender.

Step 1a: Classification of the offence

In this step, the court will regard only “offence-specific” factors. These factors are those which relate to the circumstances of the offence and will be crucial in the court’s calibrating of an appropriate sentencing band. Several “offence-specific” factors were outlined by the court, in a non-exhaustive fashion, as listed below:

S.No.

“Offence-specific” factor

Description

1

Group rape

Offences which are committed by groups of persons, even if not the product of syndicated or planned action, are more serious.

2

Abuse of position and breach of trust

Where the offender is in a position of responsibility towards the victim (for example in a doctor-patient or teacher-student relationship). When such an offender commits rape, it is especially heinous due to the violation of the trust bestowed on him by society and the victim.

3

Premeditation

The presence of planning and premeditation shows a considerable commitment towards law-breaking. Examples include, the use of drugs to reduce the victim’s resistance or arranging to meet the victim in a secluded area under a false pretence.

4

Violence

Under s 375(3) of the Penal Code, the actual or threatened use of violence in the course of rape is a statutory aggravating factor.

5

Rape of vulnerable victim

The rape of a victim who is especially vulnerable because of age, physical frailty, mental impairment or learning disability.

6

Forcible rape of a victim below 14

The policy of the law is that a female under 14 cannot consent to sexual activity, and if the victim did not consent, the offence is particularly serious.

7

Hate crime

The commission of rape as an expression of racial or religious prejudice is especially despicable.

8

Severe harm to victim

Where the rape results in especially serious physical or mental effects on the victim (such as pregnancy or the transmission of a serious disease).

9

Deliberate infliction of special trauma

Where there is deliberate infliction of special trauma or where there is a rape by a man who knows he is suffering from a life-threatening sexually transmissible disease.

Step 1b): Identifying the sentencing band the offence falls within

The following sentencing bands prescribe ranges of sentences. These define the range of sentences usually imposed for a case with those “offence-specific” features.

S. No

Sentencing band

1

Band 1 comprises of cases at the lower end of the spectrum of seriousness. These cases attract sentences of 10–13 years of imprisonment and 6 strokes of the cane.

Such cases feature no “offence-specific” aggravating factors or are cases where these factors are only present to a very limited extent and therefore, have a limited impact on the sentence.

2

Band 2 comprises of rape cases of a higher level of seriousness. These cases attract sentences of 13–17 years of imprisonment and 12 strokes of the cane. Such cases would usually contain two or more “offence-specific” aggravating factors

3

Band 3 comprises of rape cases which, by reason of the number and intensity of the aggravating factors,, present themselves as extremely serious cases of rape. They should attract sentences of between 17–20 years of imprisonment and 18 strokes of the cane.

The court will first identify the appropriate Band and then determine precisely where within the range the “indicative starting point” for sentencing is, with consideration to the“offence-specific” factors.

Step 2: Calibrating the appropriate sentence

In the second step, the court will consider the aggravating and mitigating factors that are personal to the offender in order to calibrate the appropriate sentence for that offender. The following “offender-specific” factors relate to the offender’s specific personal circumstances. The court will clearly articulate the factors it has taken into consideration as well as the merit given to them.

S. No.

“Offender-specific” aggravating factor

Description

1

Evident lack of remorse

For example, if the offender conducts his defence in an extravagant and unnecessary manner.

2

The presence of relevant antecedents

If the antecedent offence(s) was the same as that of the proceeded charge, the sentence might be more severe.

3

Offences taken into consideration for the purposes of sentencing

This can be demonstrated by, among other things, cooperation with the police.

“Offender-specific” mitigating factor

4

Display of evident remorse

For example, where the offender apologises after the incident.

5

Youth

The youth of the offender, and in turn his rehabilitation, is a pertinent consideration.

6

Advanced age

Although the advanced age of an offender is not generally a factor that warrants a sentencing discount, the courts do keep in mind that the imposition of substantial custodial terms deprives the elderly of a large fraction of their life expectancy.

The Court of Appeal also discussed the mitigating value of a plea of guilt and deemed that it should be assessed in terms of (i) the extent to which it is a signal of remorse; (ii) the savings in judicial resources; and (iii) the extent to which it spared the victim the ordeal of testifying.

Moving forward

The new Singapore framework, modelled after the Taueki methodology, has been lauded for bringing clarity, transparency, coherence, and consistency to our current state of rape sentencing laws. This is a positive change in the right direction and all that remains is to wait and see how our judiciary applies this new framework in the years to come.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Sentencing Framework for Maid Abuse Cases

court case Singapore Amarjit Singh

High Court sets out sentencing framework to clarify and guide maid abuse cases

A man found guilty of maid abuse saw his appeal against his conviction thrown out, and had his sentence raised by 15 months. This development comes as the High Court sets out a new sentencing framework for cases involving maid abuse.

Both husband and wife were sentenced to 28 months and 2 months imprisonment respectively, last March. The sentence was passed by a district court, for abusing their Indonesian domestic helper for a period of two years. The defendants filed an appeal against their conviction, while the prosecution appealed for higher sentences for the couple.

On Friday (March 2), a panel of three judges — comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang and Justice See Kee Oon — found the husband’s original sentence “manifestly inadequate” and upped his jail term to 43 months. His wife sentence still stands at two months.

During the 14-day trial earlier, the district court heard that the couple, who have three children, subjected the victim to constant physical and emotional abuse when she worked for them from December 2010 to December 2012.

Tay, a former regional IT manager, accused the victim of breaking a religious statue, which the couple’s daughter had knocked off a cabinet. As punishment, he forced the helper to stand on a stool for half an hour on one leg while holding another stool over her head. He also stuffed an incense bottle in her mouth.

On two other occasions, he accused the victim of stealing his medicine and not reporting his daughter’s refusal to study. He then hit her head with a bamboo stick, and also with a bundle of three canes on a separate occasion. Chia also slapped and punched the domestic helper on the forehead.

Tay made the victim and their other Burmese domestic helper kneel and get up in front of a Buddhist altar 100 times, then slap each other 10 times. He also made them assume a push-up position and kicked the victim at her waist.

Additionally, he tried to bribe the victim by offering to pay her full salary and send her back to Indonesia, in exchange for not reporting his offences to the police. He also instructed her to lie to the police by saying he did not abuse the Burmese domestic helper.

Delivering the decision on Friday, Justice See noted that psychological abuse along with physical harm characterises “egregious” instances of maid abuse, with domestic helpers being particularly vulnerable due to their circumstances. The court also takes into critical consideration “the emotional trauma resulting from psychological abuse”.

Justice See also added that “The psychological harm and mental anguish they can suffer from being trapped in a situation of fear, abuse and oppression can be just as acute and enduring as physical harm, if not more.” In dismissing the prosecution’s appeal against the wife’s sentence, Justice See said she had inflicted “predominantly physical” harm to the victim. But he noted the husband’s sentence was manifestly inadequate, given the degree of psychological and physical harm the employer had caused the helper.

In their written judgement, the three judges pointed out the “humiliating and degrading” nature of the abuse, especially for the victims who were Muslim and Christian, made to bow before a Buddhist altar.

“Although he had no past convictions, the number and frequency of the attacks show that he was habitual and unrestrained in his abuse,” the judgement read.

To that end, the High Court set out a sentencing framework for cases of maid abuse.

(i) If the abuse was mainly physical, the court should consider the degree of harm, as well as the aggravating and mitigating factors, in deciding on the appropriate sentence.

(ii) If the abuse was both physical and psychological, the court then needs to identify the degree of harm caused in relation to each charge.

The court should then adjust the sentence for each charge in light of aggravating factors — such as preventing the victim from getting help — and mitigating circumstances, such as cooperating with the authorities. Subsequently, the court should decide which sentences to run consecutively, taking into account the duration and frequency of the abuse.

The High Court also set out indicative ranges corresponding to the degree of harm caused:

The defendants are currently on trial for abusing the Burmese domestic helper. The panel of three judges granted their application to remain being out on bail, till the trial is over later this year. They will serve their sentences after the other has completed his or her jail term, considering they have children to care for.

Chief Justice Menon also ordered the couple to pay compensation to the victim, but the amount will be decided subsequently. Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck has asked for a higher compensation sum from him, “given the duration of psychological harm” he had caused.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

What Is Bail?

What is Bail?

You may have heard this word commonly used in relation to criminal offences. However, do you know what exactly is the definition of bail?

When is it granted? Who can issue it? What should you do if you happen to be a bailor?

First of all, it is important to note that failure to report to court or to the investigating officer may result in a Warrant of Arrest issued against a person on bail. The bail amount may also be forfeited and the bailor will have to show up in court too.

When is bail offered?

Bail may be offered by the police or any other law enforcement agencies. This is known as ‘police bail’ and it is usually offered after the initial arrest, but before the person is charged in court.

Here is what happens during an arrest.

After being charged in Court, the Court may offer a ‘court bail’, or extend the existing police bail until the next session of the case.

Bail is usually offered for most offences except those that are punishable with death, or life imprisonment.

At the State Courts, bail applications are processed by the Bail Centre at The Crime Registry located on the ground floor of the State Courts Building.

Additional restrictions

When a person is on bail, he or she will need to surrender his/her passport, and will not be allowed to leave the country unless they have obtained permission from the Court or the investigating officer. The bailor’s consent is required too.

How much will it usually be?

The amount, or quantum of bail to be offered will be determined by either the police or the Court. In Court, your lawyer, or even you may propose the bail amount while the other party may accept, or counter-propose a different amount. If both parties cannot reach a conclusion, the Court will hear arguments from both parties and make a decision on the amount.

This amount is determined by the seriousness of the offence; the character and financial means of the person; as well as a review of their past criminal record.

For non-serious offences, bail is usually less than S$15,000. If you are issued a court bail, you may appeal to the High Court to review the amount. For police bail, the decision is final.

What happens if you become a bailor?

The bailor’s main role is to ensure the person on bail surrenders to custody and is present for investigations and in Court. If at any point, you wish to withdraw as a bailor before the case has concluded, you will need to apply to either the police or the Court. If the case has already been mentioned in Court, the bailor will also need to appear in court to make an application to discharge himself/herself.

If the case runs smoothly, the bailor will be free from his or her duties once the case has concluded.

The case is concluded in one of these situations:

  • The police, or law enforcement agency has decided not to proceed with prosecution after investigations have been completed.
  • The Court has delivered the verdict. Regardless the decision, whether the person gets acquitted or convicted, the cash deposit or personal property used as bail will be returned to the bailor.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation and further advise you on the terms and conditions for bailors. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.