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Crimes Punishment

* non-exhaustive list

SENTENCING IN THE CRIMINAL COURTS

SENTENCING PHILOSOPHY

The four pillars of sentencing are:

  • Retribution;
  • Deterrence;
  • Prevention; and
  • Rehabilitation.

The Criminal Courts of Singapore can impose the following punishment:

  • Capital punishment;
  • Imprisonment;
  • Caning;
  • Fines;
  • Probation;
  • Disqualification from driving.

NEW SENTENCING OPTIONS – COMMUNITY-BASED SENTENCES

The Criminal Procedure Code 2010 also provides for new sentencing options which allow judges to sentence offenders so that the punishment fits the offence better. This means judges are no longer restricted to sentencing criminals to jail or fine, which could have an adverse effect on their families and jobs. These are community-based sentences whereby offenders are ordered to do community work or attend a reporting centre regularly for supervision and counselling.

1. MANDATORY TREATMENT ORDERS

To allow the Courts to order an offender to undergo psychiatric treatment in lieu of imprisonment. No such power exists currently.

2. SHORT DETENTION ORDERS (SDO)

To give first time low-risk offenders a short experience (about one week) of detention. The SDO is less stigmatizing than imprisonment and limiting the detention period will prevent contamination. More importantly, the SDO will not dislodge the offender from his family and job. At the same time the “clang of the prison gates” helps deter reoffending.

3. DAY REPORTING ORDERS (DRO)

To require an offender to report to a Reporting Centre on a regular basis and be electronically tagged, if necessary. This imposes some discipline and aids in rehabilitation as the offender’s progress is monitored closely. It can be used very effectively in combination with an SDO. Other countries have used such orders to positive effect.

4. COMMUNITY WORK ORDERS (COMWO)

Modelled after the “Corrective Work Order” for litterers, to allow for a wider range of offences and types of work to be mandated. The type of community work should have some nexus to the offence committed.

5. EXPANDED COMMUNITY SERVICE ORDERS (CSO)

To allow offenders aged 16 and above to make reparation to the community while being punished for their misdeeds. This will require tying up with Voluntary Welfare Organizations which can put the offenders’ service to good use. The proposed length of the CSO is 40 to 240 hours.

6. EXPANDED CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE

To allow the Courts to specify conditions such as participation in programmes or an MTO as a requirement. The maximum term for a conditional discharge is proposed to be extended from the current 12 months to 24 months to allow sufficient time for participation in programmes.

WHAT IS A SPENT CONVICTION?

Under the Registration of Criminal Act, certain convictions for minor offences become “spent”, but it does not “erase” criminal records. Once spent, it allows the ex-convict to reintegrate into society. He can withhold disclosure of his criminal record, once spent, in certain cases. The person must remain crime-free for a period of 5 years.

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