Whether it’s for you, or a loved one who’s currently under Police investigation for a crime in Singapore, this article will delve into the process of a typical police investigation, as well as what to expect during each step.
Depending on the crime, and whether its an arrestable offence or not, there are usually four steps that begin right when the first information report is filed. The length of the investigation will depend on how complicated the case is, as well as the amount of evidence available.
The police receives a first information report of a crime
A first information report, such as a letter or message, may be received in writing. It can also be in the form of a report made by an informant by phone, or at the police station. The police will consider whether the information in the report discloses a possible offence and, if so, whether the offence is arrestable or non-arrestable.
If the alleged offender commits an arrestable offense, the police have the authority to arrest them without obtaining a warrant of arrest. These offences include rape, theft and robbery, criminal trespass, assault, as well as the use of criminal force against a person or intent to molest are all examples of arrestable offenses.
If the police have reason to believe that the offence is arrestable, they will investigate the facts of the case as soon as possible and attempt to locate the offender, arresting them if necessary.
For non-arrestable cases, the police have the authority to investigate but may refer the case to a Community Mediation Centre. The police may also refer the informant, the person who provided information about the offense, to a magistrate for further questioning. Following that, the magistrate may either issue summons to call for witnesses and direct police officers to investigate the complaint, postpone the matter in favour of an amicable resolution of the matter such as mediation, or simply dismiss the complaint.
Witness and cautioned statements
Witness Statements can be taken at any time during the police investigation. The procedure usually begins with the person making a statement, which must be documented in writing. The statement must then be read to them, with interpretation if necessary, before they sign it.
Witness statements allow the police to interview anyone with information about the case under investigation. While the person being examined is required to tell the truth about the facts of the case, they are not required to say anything that could lead to a criminal charge. This means they may tell the police everything they know about the case, except anything that suggests they committed the crime.
It is important to note that in Singapore, an individual’s right to a lawyer arises only after a “reasonable time” has passed after the arrest. This is mainly to ensure that the police can conduct investigations without interference.
Cautioned Statements are the other type of statement to expect during a police investigation. This is usually taken after the suspect has been arrested, but before they are formally charged in court. The investigating officer must officially lay out and explain the charges against the suspect. They will then be asked if they have anything to say about the charge, which the investigating officer will document everything the suspect says in response from then on, as well as any silence or unwillingness to make a statement on the suspect’s part.
The cautioned statement will be written and then read back to the suspect, who must sign it. A copy of the statement will also be given to the suspect. When a suspect is arrested, they will be taken into police custody. For an arrestable offense, a person can be detained for no more than 48 hours.
Gathering of evidence
The police in Singapore may apply for a search warrant to search premises and seize property related to a criminal investigation. There are two kinds of search warrants.
- A general search warrant which gives the executing officer broad discretion or authority to conduct a general search of an area and seize any goods, property, or documents discovered.
- A specific search warrant which allows the executing officer to search or inspect only the areas specified in the search warrant issued by the court.
The police may also require the suspect to take a Polygraph test, which you can read more about here.
The case is referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC)
After the police have gathered information and made recommendations, the case will be referred to the AGC for review by a public prosecutor. While the police play an important role in investigations, the power to initiate criminal proceedings rests with the public prosecutor.
Instead of charging the suspect, the prosecutor may decide to issue a stern or conditional warning. The warning is intended to deter future criminal behaviour. It is not a criminal conviction and has no legal ramifications. The police, however, keep records of stern and conditional warnings.
It’s also worth noting that a conditional warning comes with conditions that must be met. For example, an individual may be required to refrain from committing any crime for a specified period of time. Otherwise, they may face prosecution for both the original offense and any subsequent offenses committed.
Engaging a Lawyer
If you or your loved one is currently under a police investigation, you should consult a lawyer who will be able to guide you through your options.
Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years, from traffic offences and high-profile criminal cases to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr. Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.