The Singapore Courts reserves capital punishment for the harshest of offences- people facing murder charges. Only recently, was the mandatory death penalty lifted for those convicted of murder under certain specific conditions.
If you are facing murder charges, GJC Law has the expertise and experience to represent you. We have dealt with murder (capital offences) cases and trials and can help you though the process whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
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What is murder?
Murder is defined under s300 of the Singapore penal code. To constitute murder, the alleged offender must be proven to have done the act causing death with:
- Intention of causing death;
- Intention of causing such bodily injury which the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused;
- Intention of causing bodily injury to any person, and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death; or
- Knowledge that the act is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death, or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and yet he committed such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death, or such injury as aforesaid.
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There are three parts to this subsection:
- The accused must have intended to commit the act;
- The accused must have intended for that act to cause death;
- The act must have been the cause of death.
If A shoots Z with the intention of killing Z and Z dies as a result, A will be guilty of murder.
Subsection (c) will be explained before subsection (b).
There are three parts to this subsection:
- Intention to cause the bodily injury;
- Such injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death;
- The bodily injury caused the death.
It does not matter that the offender did not intend to cause death or did not know that the bodily injury is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. As long as he had intended to cause such bodily injury as is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death (this is based on a medical enquiry), he will be held guilty of murder.
A intentionally stabs Z in the thigh, but did not intend to kill him. However, the stab hits a major artery which is, sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. A is guilty of murder, even if he did not know that such a stab could strike this artery and be sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature.
There are three parts to this section
- Intention of causing bodily injury;
- Knowledge that such bodily injury is likely to cause the death of the victim;
- Victim dies as a result of that bodily injury.
This section targets murders that cannot fall under s300(c) because the bodily injury would not have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death. How, this section applies where victims were suffering from a certain ailment which made them more vulnerable than the ordinary person who may not have died as a result of such injury.
- A knows that Z suffers from a disease X such that a simple punch is likely to cause his death;
- A punches Z with the intention of causing bodily injury;
- Z dies in consequence of the punch;
- A is guilty of murder, even though such a punch might not have been sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death to an ordinary, healthy person.
The crux of the criminal liability is whether the offender intended to inflict the injury, and knew that the victim’s was suffering from a special condition which made susceptible to death from such injury.
If A did not know that Z was suffering from any such disease, and the bodily injury A intended to inflict was not “sufficient in the ordinary course of nature” to kill an ordinarily healthy person under s 300(c), A will not be guilty of murder even if he intended to cause that bodily injury. This is assuming that, A did not intend to cause death under s 300(a).
There are four parts to this subsection:
- Knowledge that act the offender intends to commit is so imminently dangerous that;
- Act must in all probability cause death; or
- cause such a bodily injury as is likely to cause death;
- without excuse for incurring such risk of causing death.
When the offender knew that the act he committed was so imminently dangerous is usually determined by an objective assessment of the reasonable man. Otherwise, every alleged offender will be able to avoid criminal liability by saying that he was not aware of the imminent danger that his act posed.
This subsection is often invoked in cases where there is no intention to cause the death of any particular person. The knowledge involved is that of a high risk of death and bodily injury. For that of death, the risk must be one “approximating a practical certainty”.
Finally, the excuse for incurring such risk need not be a lawful one and may include a moral or social reason.
Offenders found guilty under S300(a) will be punished with the mandatory death penalty. Offenders guilty under S300(b),(c) and (d) will be punished with either death or life imprisonment, and also be liable to caning if not punished with death.