YOUR RIGHTS FROM ARREST TILL PRODUCTION IN COURT
Arrestable and non-Arrestable offences
Generally, before a person is arrested, the arresting officer has to consider whether the offence is ‘arrestable’ or non-arrestable. An arrestable offence is one where the arresting authority may arrest without a Warrant of Arrest. On the other hand, a Warrant of Arrest will be required before the execution of a non-arrestable offence. Nonetheless, there are certain offences which, although are non-arrestable, would become ‘arrestable’ if committed in the view of a Police Officer.
Offences such as theft, robbery, criminal breach of trust, criminal trespass, housebreaking, causing grievous hurt, rape, affray, criminal intimidation, consumption and/or trafficking in drugs, etc. are some offences which are ‘arrestable’ while causing hurt, dishonest misappropriation of property, mischief and defamation are some of the offences which are non-arrestable.
In addition to the Penal Code, there are other Statutes under which confer arrestable powers to the relevant authorities. Some of these include the Misuse of Drugs Act, the National Registration Act, the Arms and Explosives Act (certain offences) and the Kidnapping Act.
Search and Seizure
In arrestable offences, the police have powers to search for and seize documents or other evidence connected with the crime. These powers also include the right to forcefully gain entry into premises if they are unlawfully refused ingress in relation to the crime or other arrestable offence they have been informed about.
Right to Counsel
Under the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, where a person is arrested, he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. In addition to the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of your choice, if you are arrested and not released, you should, without unreasonable delay, and in any case within 48 hours (excluding the time of any necessary journey), be produced before a Magistrate, in person or by way of video-conferencing link (or other similar technology) in accordance with law, and shall not be further detained in custody without the Magistrate’s authority.
In instances where you may be financially constrained to engage a legal practitioner, there are two avenues where you may seek assistance if you have been charged with offences under certain Statutes. These are the Legal Aid Bureau (for Civil cases) which is administered by the Ministry of Law and the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (for non-death penalty offences) under the auspicious of the Law Society of Singapore.
Upon arrest, there are three options open to the arresting authorities: release you unconditionally, produce you in court or release you on bail or personal bond. By law, when any person, except a person accused of a non-bailable offence is arrested or detained without warrant by a police officer and is prepared to give bail at any time while in the police officer’s custody the person must be released on bail or on personal bond by a police officer.
There are however, some instances when a person arrested for a non-bailable offence accept that punishable with death or imprisonment for life may, at the discretion of a police officer or the court, be released on bail or personal bond.
Conditions in Bail
In the granting of bail by a police officer or the court, certain conditions may be imposed upon you. These include surrendering your travel documents, being available for investigations or attending court, not committing any offences while on bail or personal bond, not interfering with any witness or otherwise obstructing the course of justice etc.
Assuming that you have been arrested or informed that you may be prosecuted for an offence, you must be served with and have read to you a notice in writing called the Cautioned Statement. Upon having the statement read to you, you may choose to remain silent or give a statement which must be recorded in writing or in the form of an audiovisual recording. If you decide to give a statement but do not understand English, it will be interpreted for you in a language that you understand. It will then be read over to you before you are requested to sign it.
Although as mentioned above, you may choose not to say anything about the charge which would have been read to you before the Cautioned Statement, the judge at your trial may be less likely to believe you if you were to reveal any fact or matter in your defence at that stage. As a consequence, your case will be less likely to succeed in court. It would therefore be advisable for you to disclose all relevant information you know pertaining to the charge and which would most likely exculpate you bearing in mind that you are not obliged to incriminate yourself. Once these procedures have been complied with, the police may decide to produce you in court.