How Can One Be Arrested?
Arrest Without a Warrant
Section 64 of the Criminal Procedure Code (2010 Rev. Ed) (“CPC”) lays the law empowering police officers to arrest persons without a warrant.
- A police officer may arrest a person without a warrant where they are reasonably suspected of being involved in an arrestable offence if someone made a reasonable complaint against such person or if credible information involving an arrestable offence is given regarding said person.
- A police officer may arrest individuals possessing anything they reasonably suspect that the individual stole or fraudulently obtained and who they may reasonably suspect of having committed an offence in acquiring it.
- A person can also be arrested without a warrant for a non-arrestable offence if they cannot give a satisfactory account of themselves.
Arrest With a Warrant
Generally, under Section 69 of the CPC, the Commissioner of Police, the head of any law enforcement agency, or any person of a similar rank in a law enforcement agency directs an arrest warrant.
Under Section 73 of the CPC, the person executing an arrest warrant must inform the arrested individual of the content of the warrant and, if required, show them the warrant or a copy of it.
Private Arrest by a Citizen
According to Section 66 of the CPC, any ordinary (or “private”) citizen may make an arrest of their fellow citizen, otherwise known as a private arrest.
A private arrest can only be made if the perpetrator commits an arrestable, non-bailable offence against a victim or their property. Once such an arrest is made, the private person must hand over the arrested person to a police officer or take him to a police station without delay.
Thereafter, a police officer must re-arrest him if there are grounds to believe that the arrested person has committed the aforementioned offence.
Read more: Arrest in Singapore
Under Section 79 of the CPC, a police officer may take from an arrested person any offensive weapons they have about their person, and must deliver all weapons taken to a police station.
Per Section 83 of the CPC, a female police officer must search a female arrested person. A male officer may only search a female arrested person if he has reason to believe that:
- the arrested person is a terrorist,
- a terrorist attack is imminent, and
- the search cannot be done within a reasonable time by a female officer.
Detention at the Police Station
Rights of the Arrested Person in Custody
Upon arrest and arrival at the police station, the arrested person is allowed to contact his family or a lawyer after a reasonable period after the arrest. Article 9(3) of the Constitution of Singapore reads, “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.”
The police can detain an arrested person for up to 48 hours. They must be released unconditionally if the police officer cannot determine that they have committed an offence – according to Section 68 of the CPC and Article 9(4) of the Constitution of Singapore.
Read more:Short-Detention Order (SDO) in Singapore
Police officers will orally examine any person believed to know the facts and circumstances of the case being investigated as per Section 22 of the CPC.
The person being examined is bound to state the truth about the facts of the case but need not mention things that might expose him to a criminal charge (i.e., need not self-incriminate). The statement made by the person must be: in writing, read to him, and signed by him.
During the investigations, the police officer may decide to charge the arrested person. In doing so, the arrested person must be served and have read to him a notice in writing pursuant to Section 23 of the CPC. This notice is also known as a “caution”, and it serves to inform the person he is being charged, and gives him an opportunity to provide a defence at that juncture. The statement that is recorded then is what is known as a “cautioned statement”.
Given that counsel is not allowed to be present during statement-taking under Article 9(3) of the Constitution of Singapore, this suggests that no one else is allowed to be present during statement-making.
Once the investigation officer has gathered sufficient evidence, the police will submit the results of the investigations to the Public Prosecutor, who will decide whether to formally charge the arrested person and proceed with the prosecution.
If the arrested person is granted bail, they are expected to return to a police station or Court on specified dates and times until the conclusion of the case against them.
Read more: Applying for Bail in Sinapore
FAQs on the Arrest Process in Singapore
What is the difference between a witness statement and a cautioned statement?
Witness statements contain your account of the facts and circumstances of the investigated offence. In comparison, cautioned statements are a notice to provide a defence or explanation in response to a formal charge.
What if I don’t speak English?
All witness and cautioned statements recorded in writing must be read back to the accused person. If the accused person does not understand English, the statements must be interpreted to them in a language they understand – according to Sections 22(4)(b) and 23(3A)(b) of the CPC.
What happens if I am granted bail?
If you are granted bail, you are expected to return to a police station or Court on a specified date and time until the case’s conclusion.
What are the different types of police bail in Singapore?
In Singapore, there are three types of police bail.
- Investigative bail is granted to a person who has been arrested for a crime and is under investigation. The person is released from custody but must report to the police station for further questioning or examination. The duration of investigative bail is usually up to 28 days but may be extended under certain circumstances.
- Court bail is granted to a person charged with an offence and awaiting trial. The person may be released from custody, but must attend all Court hearings and comply with all conditions the Court sets. Court bail can range from a few weeks to several months.
- Police supervision is granted to a person released on bail but is considered a flight risk or a danger to society. Under police supervision, the person must report to the police station regularly and comply with other conditions imposed by the police, such as a curfew or travel ban. Police supervision can range from a few days to several weeks.
Can a person be deported after being arrested in Singapore?
Yes, Singapore authorities can deport non-Singaporean citizens after their arrest in Singapore. Deportation is when the authorities order a person to leave the country and may bar them from returning.
Under Singapore’s Immigration Act, a foreigner:
- convicted of an offence in Singapore,
- sentenced to imprisonment for at least one year, or
- considered a threat to national security or public order,
may be liable for deportation. The Singapore authorities may detain foreigners pending deportation.
Read more: Expat Crime & Penalties for crimes in Singapore
Can a person be arrested for a non-criminal offence in Singapore, such as a traffic violation?
Arrest for a traffic violation depends on whether the offence is criminal. Traffic offences in Singapore are classified as either criminal or non-criminal offences.
Criminal traffic offences include but are not limited to, reckless driving, dangerous driving, and drunk driving. On the other hand, non-criminal traffic offences typically result in a fine or demerit points rather than an arrest. Examples of non-criminal traffic offences include speeding, running a red light, and illegal parking.
It is important to note that even if a traffic offence is not considered criminal, a person may still be required to attend Court if they contest the offence.
What happens if a person violates the conditions of their bail in Singapore?
Under Section 103 of the CPC, the authority who gave the bail or any police officer may arrest someone who fails to comply with bail bond conditions. When authorities arrest a person on bail for a breach of their bail bond, the Court that granted the bail may, if it thinks fit, revoke the bail and issue a warrant. If a person is found guilty of a breach of bail, the Court may impose a fine, imprisonment term, or both.
What Can GJC Law Do to Help?
Advice on Legal Options: We can explain the charges against you, the legal process, and your legal options. We can advise you on the best course of action, including whether to plead guilty.
Legal Representation: We can represent you in Court and defend your rights. We can also negotiate with the prosecution to try and reduce charges or penalties.
Bail Application: If you are arrested, we can help you apply for bail. We can assist you in gathering the necessary documents and presenting a strong case to the Court.
Application to Leave Jurisdiction: If you are under investigation with your passport confiscated (or otherwise), and you had made prior travel plans, we can assist to apply for permission for you proceed with your travels. If you are charged with an offence and arrested, you may wish to seek help from our criminal lawyers to provide legal representation and advice.
Communication With Authorities: We can communicate with the authorities on your behalf. Speaking on your behalf can be particularly helpful if you are a non-Singaporean citizen unfamiliar with Singapore’s legal system.
Protection of Rights: We can ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. We can also help you navigate any issues related to immigration and ensure that your legal status is not negatively affected by the arrest.
Overall, we can provide crucial legal support to anyone who is arrested, regardless of citizenship status.