By Gloria James-Civetta

Contact us for a free initial consultation.

Areas of Representation

Heralding a New Direction in Singapore’s Drug Sentencing Laws

2 min read

New sentencing guidelines with regard to drug trafficking were recently laid down by Singapore’s apex court in the case of Suventher Shanmugam v Public Prosecutor.

After undertaking a rigorous review of precedent drug cases, the trio of Court of Appeal judges consisting of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash and Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang delivered this key change to Singapore’s drug sentencing jurisprudence early this year.

In a nutshell, the quantity of drugs that an accused person is charged with importing without authorisation should be indicative of a range of possible sentencing. This is a shift from the previous stance- where courts tended to mete out sentences that cluster around the minimum sentence where the quantity of drugs stated in the charge falls short of the death penalty limit.

For example, previously, the sentencing for the offence of trafficking cannabis below 500g used to be at the lower end of the sentencing range of between 20 years’ imprisonment and 30 years of imprisonment for life. However, after the change, sentences will be calibrated according to the weight of drugs trafficked (see table below).

The following indicative sentencing guidelines were laid down with regard to the unauthorised import or trafficking of cannabis:
Suventher Shanmuam v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGCA 25

Drug Weight Range Indicative Sentencing Range
(a) 330 to 380g 20 to 22 years’ imprisonment
(b) 381 to 430g 23 to 25 years’ imprisonment
(c) 431 to 500g 26 to 29 years’ imprisonment

These indicative sentences may be adjusted upward or downward to take into account (1) the offender’s culpability, (2) the presence of aggravating factors and (3) the presence of mitigating factors. Moreover, where an accused cannot be caned because of gender or age, the court may also impose a term of imprisonment of not more than 12 months in lieu of caning.

The above sentencing range may also be applied to other drug offences with the same punishment range.

The new sentencing guidelines reflect Singapore’s strict deterrant stance against drug-trafficking and ensures that the policy of the law on drug offences is given effect to.  More importantly, this also conforms with an indispensable theory that undergirds criminal law: the sentence passed for any crime should be proportional to the gravity of the offence.

Should you have any questions or need legal representation, kindly contact Gloria James-Civetta & Co on 6337 0469 for a free consultation, or email to consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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 consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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

Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore – Changes to the Offence (2022)

5 min read

Facing Molestation Charges – What you need to Know

4 min read

Penalties for Voluntarily Causing Hurt in Singapore

8 min read

Let us help you.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges and would like more information on criminal motions, kindly leave your information and one of our lawyers will get back to you directly.