A Warrant of Arrest, or a Warrant is a court order issued to arrest an alleged suspect and bring him before the courts, or to require him/her to surrender. This Warrant is issued to law enforcement agencies and authorities, or even a person who has a duty to investigate and charge an offender. These agencies include:
- Immigration and Checkpoint Authority of Singapore (ICA)
- Singapore Customs
- Internal Security Department (ISD)
- Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)
What To Do If You Are Issued With a Warrant?
If a Warrant is issued against you, you would be given a letter of advice with instructions on your next steps. You may also log into the Outstanding Warrant Enquiry System (OWAES) if you are using a digital device.
Generally, it is advisable for you to speak to a criminal lawyer as soon as you can to obtain legal advice on your next steps.
If a Warrant had been issued against you because of your failure to attend court or non-payment of fines, you will need to surrender yourself to the relevant enforcement agency or the Warrant Enforcement Unit at the Police Cantonment Complex.
If you have any questions about the Warrant issued against you, you may login to SPF’s e-service, Outstanding Warrant of Arrest Enquiry System at https://eservices.police.gov.sg (select Enquiry > Police Matters > Outstanding Warrant of Arrest Enquiry System) to check for outstanding Warrant of Arrest issued against you under Police Warrant Enforcement Unit records. Please note that you will need your SingPass to access the system.
When is a Warrant Issued?
Warrants are generally issued for one of these reasons:
- You have committed a non-arrestable offence: Unlike an arrestable offence like rioting where you may be arrested without a warrant, non-arrestable offences like voluntarily causing hurt will require a Warrant. The Police will generally advise you to make a Magistrate’s Complaint at the Community Justice Tribunals Division (CJTD) at the State Courts. The Magistrate will then decide if the case if worth pursuing either through State Prosecution, mediation or private prosecution, or issue a Warrant.
- You have failed to attend court or pay your state court fines: If you had been issued with a state court fine for a minor offence but fail to pay up by the due date, a summons to attend court will be issued to you. If you still fail to pay the fine and worse, fail to attend court too, then a Warrant may be issued against you.
Although not guaranteed, Bail may be offered as a condition of the Warrant but if you cannot find a bailor, you will be brought to court within 48 hours of your arrest.
What if You Are Overseas?
A Warrant may be issued for execution in the country you’re in for your arrest so that you can be returned to Singapore. If there is reason to believe that you have absconded or in hiding overseas when a Warrant had been issued to you in Singapore, the court may publish a proclamation either via a letter delivered to your last known address, or through the newspaper requiring you to appear at a specific time and place.
After this proclamation has been published, the court may seize your property or prevent rent to be paid to you and if you still fail to heed the proclamation, your property may be disposed of.
What Happens if You Ignore The Warrant?
The police may arrest you without any delay and bring you to court. If you have an outstanding Warrant issued against you for not paying your fine for a previous offence, you will also not be able to renew your road tax, driving license or HDB season parking ticket. Therefore, do not ignore the Warrant if one is issued against you.
Can a Warrant Be Cancelled?
You may apply to cancel your Warrant if the relevant agency or Warrant Enforcement Unit has not executed the Warrant, or if you have a valid reason not to attend court.
If you are trying to cancel a Warrant for an alleged criminal offence, you will need to contact the Warrant Enforcement Unit to apply for a cancellation. However, for non-criminal offences such as failure to appear in court, you may apply for a cancellation depending on which court your case will be heard.
- Night Court: applies to cases that are handled by government agencies. To apply for a cancellation, you will need to contact the relevant agency directly and indicate the reasons for your absence with supporting documents. The agency will then submit an application to cancel the Warrant to the court.
- District and Magistrate Court: You can apply to cancel your Warrant either by writing directly to the court, or applying through the ICMS portal.
You will be notified of the results by the relevant authority you have applied to. You may also check your warrant status on OWAES.
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Practice has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. 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.