By Gloria James-Civetta

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Areas of Representation

Crime and Punishment in Singapore : The Expatriate Perspective

3 min read

Being an expatriate in Singapore can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences out there. Clean, green, safe and bustling nightlife, it is no surprise that many have fallen in love with living here.
However, in light of all that she has to offer, there also exists a strict (and sometimes even unforgiving) rule of law that you must abide by during your stay to which legal ramifications are attached. These will be explained, in turn, below.

So, What Exactly Happens When I Break the Law?

Should you be accused of committing one of the offences listed here, there are a few things you can – potentially – expect to happen:
Firstly, you would be expected to assist the police in the investigative process. This could mean taking extensive periods of or sudden leave to attend interviews with the police, which could prove a major disruption to your life. Additionally, should the crime be serious enough, the police could even arrest and/or detain you which could put your job at risk.

Upon arrest, as an expatriate, it is highly likely that the police retain/surrender your passport to prevent you from absconding; regardless of whether or not you are granted bail. Any travel you have to do for work would have to be put on hold, further affecting your job security.


Furthermore, the more serious consequence would be that your working visa may be affected, making future renewals difficult. Your company may also, depending on their policy, reserve the right to cancel your pass.

In the event that this happens, the government will issue you a special pass that has to be renewed fortnightly for you to remain in the country throughout the investigation.

The lack of a visa would prevent you from earning an income throughout your stay here. Depending on the duration of the legal process – which could go on for an extended period of time – coupled by the high legal costs, it would have a most detrimental effect on you, placing you in a precarious position financially.

What Should I Do, Then?

Frankly speaking, the best thing for you to do is to simply stay out of trouble.
If it is too late for that, simply get in touch with a criminal defence lawyer as soon as you can. This is crucial as being an expatriate, having an experienced lawyer well versed in Singaporean law help you navigate and better understand the legal processes.

Identify available defences and make representations on your behalf could have a significant, positive impact on your case, thus helping you “cut your losses” and achieve the best possible outcome.


Singapore is renowned for its reputation of having strict laws and even stricter punishments. Both capital and corporal punishments are still being applied today although other countries have abolished the system on the grounds of its inhumanity. Being a foreigner, the brunt of it to be experienced is that much more severe.

So, try to be on your best behaviour at all times and in the event, you get in trouble, make it a point to seek legal help immediately. Our criminal defence lawyers are seasoned and ready to help you in any way. Do contact us if you have any queries, we are always happy to help.

What can we do for you?

Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our criminal representation lawyers at 6337 0469 or email us at

Related posts

  • All
  • All Cases
  • Blog
  • Corruption & Embezzlement Offences
  • Crimes Affecting Public Peace
  • Cybercrimes
  • Driving Offences
  • Drug Offences
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Law Watch
  • Other Reported Cases
  • Property Offences
  • Regulatory Offences
  • Sexual Crime
  • Sexual Crimes
  • Traffic Offences
  • Violent Crimes
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Youth Crime

Can I Report a Crime that Happened Ages Ago?

Pleading Guilty in Your Criminal Case in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide

Legal Insights by GJC Lawyers on Filming without Consent in Public