With the lowest crime rate in the Asia, low tax rates and excellent living standards, it is of little wonder that Expats have made Singapore a favoured Professional Platform in the South East Asian Region.
However, Expats are confronted with harsh penalties should they land on the wrong side of the Law.
It is important to keep in mind that Singapore is a conservative country with relatively strict rules.
It is not uncommon to be arrested and detained for what Expats may view as relatively minor offences in comparison to their home country. Questions an Expat could face:
What are the consequences of being charged?
Will it affect my working Visa?
Will I be allowed to travel if my passport is detained?
When should I inform my employer of my circumstances; and Am I in breach of any of my employment contract terms and conditions?
When do I engage a lawyer?
When one is charged by the police, that means time is spent taking urgent leave to attend interviews at the police station. The first arrest can also lead to a 48 hours detention at the police station and having no access to counsel or to make a telephone call, one puts their job at risk for their ‘mysterious disappearance’. When one is released on bail, the expat has to find a Singapore Permanent Resident to sign the police bail bond. Your passport will be retained by the police pending the outcome of the investigations.<?p>
The moment one is charged, the visa can be affected if the employment pass is due to expire. What happens then is a “white pass” can issued which has to renewed on a weekly or fortnightly basis. It also sees frequent visits to the police station and the ICA, to have the visa renewed.
You can travel abroad, however, the police has to release the passport to you with bail conditions being imposed. Such as, a Singapore Citizen standing as a bailor for you; increased in the current police bail amount to at least 2 fold the amount; and supplying your travel details.
There’s no need or requirement to inform your Employers of your circumstances, until and unless you are going to be charged in court and you are likely to plead guilty to the offence. In such event, you can also ask your Employer to provide a testimonial letter to be attached to the Plea of Mitigation.
This will depend on your employment contract. Generally, most employment contracts talk about misconduct, and if you committed a serious crime, this can result in an instant dismissal and your work visa shall be affected.
It is good practice to engage a lawyer the soonest possible, as you ought to know your rights and with the lawyers writing a letter of representation to the police / prosecutors can likely result in the police considering to give a stern warning rather than hauling one to court.
So, how do Expats get into trouble with the law in Singapore?
We look at the most Common Crimes which affect Expats in Singapore:
- Submitting false qualifications to the ICA
- Theft – Shoplifting
- Drunk Driving
- Disorderly Behaviour
- Outrage of Modesty of a Woman
- Road Rage, Assault, Affray
- White Collar Crime – criminal breach of trust, cheating, computer crimes, theft of intellectual property
- Sexual Harassment at work place
Lastly, Expats need to be aware that the local newspaper like nothing more than covering court cases involving expats, so STAY OUT OF TROUBLE !
And if you need legal representation, kindly contact Gloria James-Civetta & Co here, to get the legal advice you need.