Criminal Law FAQs

ARRESTS

» Do the Police need a Court warrant to arrest you?

Depending on the type of criminal offence involved, the Police can arrest you with or without getting a Court-issued warrant to detain you for investigations or to produce you in Court to be formally charged for a criminal offence.

If the Police do not have a Court Warrant, they can only arrest you when they have a reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed an arrestable offence.

Examples of arrestable offences (which is found in the Criminal Procedure Code) include:

  • Theft, Cheating and Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT)
  • Criminal intimidation and criminal trespass
  • Dishonestly receiving or retaining stolen property
  • Robbery, unlawful assembly & rioting
  • Voluntarily causing grievous hurt, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means
  • Sexual assault by penetration without consent (including oral or anal sex), commercial sex with minor under 18 years of age, doing an obscene act in a public place
  • Drug trafficking, possession or consumption
  • Offences under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act
  • Assault or use of criminal make to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty

For non-arrestable offences, the Police will typically need to get a Court Warrant before they can effect an arrest.

» What can the Police do to restrain and search you?

The Police can use reasonable make against you to effect the arrest:

  • The Police cannot use more restraint than is necessary to prevent your escape.
  • The Police can search you after the arrest is made
  • Only a female Police officer can search a woman who has been arrested  

During your arrest, you can ask the Police officer carrying out the arrest to identify himself to give you the reason for your arrest

» How long can the Police detain you?

The Police can detain and keep you in custody for up to a maximum of 48 hours from the time of your arrest before you must be released

If the Police need to extend your detention beyond 48 hours, they must bring you to Court and get the Court’s permission by giving reasons for the extension.

If the Police do not get the Court’s permission to extend your detention, you’ll be released from custody provided you promise to attend at a Police station to cooperate with investigations or to attend Court to answer for formal criminal charges).

» Can you contact your Criminal Defence lawyer after your arrest?

You’ll be allowed to consult a Criminal Defence lawyer within a reasonable time allowed for the Police to carry out their investigations – how long this time are depends on the facts your case and it is extended by the Police if allowing you to speak your Criminal Defence lawyer would obstruct their investigations.

BAIL

» When can you be released on bail?

You can get released on bail in two situations: Police Bail and Court Bail.

Police Bail (or Agency Bail) is given to you during investigations or when you’re investigated or charged by the Police or other enforcement agencies such as the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

Court bail is given to you during your criminal case in Court.

» What happens if you’re given bail?

After bail has been given to you, you can only leave Singapore with the permission of the Police or the Court. Both your bailor and the accused must be present if an application is made to the Court for permission to leave jurisdiction

The Court will usually increase the bail amount as a condition of allowing you to leave and travel overseas outside of Singapore.

If you fail to present yourself as and when needed, a Warrant of Arrest is issued against you. If Court bail has been given, your bailor must attend a hearing to give reasons to the Court why the bail monies must not be forfeited.

» Who can be your bailor?

Your bailor must satisfy the following criteria:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Singapore Citizen or a Singapore Permanent Resident
  • Cannot be an undischarged bankrupt
  • Cannot have an ongoing or pending criminal case in Court
  • Accepts the responsibilities of a bailor until the case is concluded
  • Agrees to pledge security (either in cash or in personal properties) for the amount of bail

» Will there be additional bail conditions?

The Court or Police can impose additional conditions to ensure that you attend whenever needed.

Examples of additional bail conditions include the following:

  • You must surrender your passport to the Court or Investigating Officer (IO)
  • You must comply with a curfew or time-restriction
  • You must report to the Investigating Officer (IO) on specified date / times
  • Your bailor must pay a specified amount of cash to satisfy the bail amount (as opposed to only using his assets or properties)
  • Your bailor must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident

» What duties will your bailor have?

Your bailor or surety is the person who promises and undertakes to pay the specified sum of money if you fail to appear before the Police or Court. More than one surety is needed if the bail is of a large amount. In some situations, the Police can allow you pay for your own security by making a personal bond or undertaking by yourself by without the need for a separate bailor. In Court proceedings, you cannot be your own bailor unless the Court allows.

Your bailor’s main responsibility is to ensure that you attend before the Court (or Police) whenever needed until the close of the case (or investigations).

Your bailor is liable to forfeit the full amount of bail if the accused person or suspect fails to attend before the Court or Police when needed or if he fails to comply with any of the conditions of bail.

» What can your bailor use as security for bail?

Security for bail is given or pledged in a few ways:

  • Cash
  • Monies in your bailor’s bank savings account – the bank will freeze the bank account or funds and your bailor will not be able to use the account or funds during the period of bail.
  • Cashier’s Order
  • NETS payment through your bailor’s ATM card and bank account and subject to his daily maximum withdrawal limit
  • Pledging your bailor’s personal properties for a bail amount of up to $15,000
  • Fixed Deposit or Time Deposit from your bailor’s bank account, provided the funds are not already being used as a form of security for another purpose

The monies and properties pledged by your bailor must belong to him and not you.

Your bailor can only use his sole bank account – a joint account can only be used as security if both account holders are bailors.

INVESTIGATIONS

» How are Police investigations conducted?

The Police and authorities conduct investigations to get information and evidence that helps them decide:

  • Whether there is enough evidence to prove that a criminal offence has been disclosed or is about to be committed.
  • Whether there is any basis or enough evidence to take any action against you for the criminal offence in question.

Apart from the Police, other enforcement agencies such as the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and also Statutory Boards can conduct investigations into potential criminal or regulatory offences

» Can the Police detain you during investigations?

The Police can detain and keep you in custody for up to a maximum of 48 hours from the time of your arrest before you must be released

If the Police need to extend your detention beyond 48 hours, they must bring you to Court and get the Court’s permission by giving reasons for the extension.

If the Police do not get the Court’s permission to extend your detention, you’ll be released from custody provided you promise to attend at a Police station to cooperate with investigations or to attend Court to answer for formal criminal charges).

» What will the Investigating Officer do?

The Investigating Officer (IO) who conducts the investigations will do the following:

  • Interview and ask you questions about what you know about the facts regarding the offence being investigated. The interview is conducted in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.
  • Record a written statement signed by you containing the information you’ve provided during the interview. The statement is recorded in English and explained to you in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.
  • Search a place to recover property, documents, physical objects and other material which is needed as evidence.
  • Seize physical evidence which is used as case exhibit

» What is a Witness Statement?

A Witness Statement / Investigation Statement contains your version of the facts regarding the offence being investigated:

  • You must tell the truth in this statement
  • It is a criminal offence to lie or give false information in this statement, and you’re liable to be prosecuted for doing so.
  • The interview is conducted in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary. The statement recorded in English is interpreted to you in the language that you understand.
  • You’ll be given with an opportunity to read and amend your statement before signing it to ensure that it contains an accurate account of what you said during your interview to the investigators.
  • You can decline to make any statement or comment which would expose you to a Criminal charge.
  • The contents of your Witness Statement can be used against you in Court if it was recorded from you voluntarily.
  • The statement is regarded as having been voluntarily recorded from by you if you gave the contents and signed the statement on your own free will and without any inducement, threat or promise from the person interviewing you

» What is a Cautioned Statement?

If you’re formally charged for an offence, you’ll be given a warning / notice in a Cautioned Statement to give your defence or explanation in response the Criminal charge.

  • The Criminal charge (including the criminal act / conduct alleged and the prescribed punishment) is explained to you in the language that you understand and by an interpreter if necessary
  • You must mention the facts which you want to rely on in your defence at the trial and record this in the Cautioned Statement
  • If you fail to mention your defence in the Cautioned Statement and instead only mention it later at a trial, the Court can choose not to believe your defence
  • You’ll be given with an opportunity to read and amend this statement before signing it to ensure that it contains an accurate account of your response to the Criminal charge

» Do you have the right to remain silent when you’re charged?

When you’re being formally charged and asked to sign the Cautioned Statement, you have the right to remain silent (meaning you can choose not to mention the facts which you want to rely on in your defence).

However, your defence can not be fully accepted or believed by a Court at trial if you had failed to mention your defence in the Cautioned Statement earlier and instead only mentioned it later at the trial. This is because the Court can feel that your defence has only been recently created and it is less credible or it is not true.

» What documents can you get from the Police if you’re investigated?

You can get copies of your Cautioned Statement and the First Information Report (FIR) from the Police.

The FIR is the first report received by the Police about an offence. The FIR can be the Police Report made by a complainant or it can be the transcript of the telephone call made by the complainant through the Police “999” Telephone Hotline.

You must pay for the copies of the documents obtained from the Police.

You cannot get a copy of your Witness Statement or the Witness Statement made by any other witness in the investigations.

COURT PROCESS

» When will criminal proceedings in Court start?

You must attend Court when you’ve been charged for a Criminal offence by the Police.

You must also attend Court when any other enforcement agencies – e.g. Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) – believe that you’ve committed a criminal or regulatory offence and they want to formally take action against you by charging you for the offence.

You would know of the nature of the Criminal charge against you in advance if the Police had already asked you to record a Cautioned Statement giving your defence to the Criminal charge earlier before your attendance in Court.

» What takes place at your first hearing in Court?

When you first attend in Court to answer to the Criminal charge, the Criminal charge (e.g. the nature of the criminal offence) are formally read and explained to you in Court in the language which you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.

  • The Criminal charge will contain the essential and basic details of the alleged offence e.g. date, time, location and person or property involved
  • The Criminal charge will also contain the punishment prescribed by law for the offence e.g. maximum punishment, minimum punishment and any mandatory types or amounts of punishment
  • If you’re alleged to have committed and you’re charged for more than one offence, each offence is stated in a separate Criminal charge

If any other person is involved in having committed the offence together with you, he will be charged together with you for the same offence and a separate Criminal charge is preferred against him

You must inform the Court of the course of action you want to you take:

  • Plead guilty (meaning you want to admit to the Criminal charge and accept that you’ll be punished for the offence)
  • Claim trial (meaning you want to deny that you committed the offence as alleged and you want to prove your innocence or give your defence at a trial in Court)

» Can you ask for an adjournment to get more time to decide on what to do?

You can ask for the Court to grant you an adjournment if you need more time to prepare your case or consult a Criminal Defence lawyer before you decide on your next course of action.

The Court will review the reasons for your request for an adjournment and then decide whether these reasons are of merit and deserving of your request being given.

If the case is adjourned, you is needed to furnish Court bail to ensure your attendance at the next hearing in Court or whenever needed.

» What can you do before you decide to plead guilty or claim trial?

You can make an appeal to the Prosecution (meaning the Public Prosecutor / Attorney-General’s Chambers or the Police or other enforcement agencies which is prosecuting the Criminal charge against you Court) to ask them to take a more lenient course of action against you.

  • These appeals are also called “representations
  • This process of appealing to the Prosecution and persuading them to grant your requests is sometimes called the plea bargaining or plea negotiation process.

Although you can make this appeal on your own, you can want to consult a Criminal Defence lawyer to get a clearer understanding of the facts and circumstances which is relevant to the Prosecution’s review of your appeal.

The Prosecution will review the reasons for your appeal and then decide whether these reasons are of merit and deserving of your request getting approved.

You will benefit from engaging a Criminal Defence lawyer to prepare the appeal or representations on your behalf for a number of reasons, including:

  • The Criminal Defence lawyer is able to identify and direct the Prosecution’s attention towards facts and circumstances which are particularly relevant in your case
  • The Criminal Defence lawyer is in a better position to understand and address matters of law or government policy which is relevant in the Prosecution’s review of your appeal or representations
  • The Criminal Defence lawyer would be able to advise you on the relative advantages and disadvantages of pursuing any specific course of action
  • The Criminal Defence lawyer would be able to advise you on the reasonable prospects of successfully claiming trial

The Prosecution has the discretion to decide on the nature and course of the prosecutorial action that is taken against you, including the following:

  • Whether or not to Criminal charge you?
  • What type of Criminal charge to issue against you?
  • How many charges to prefer against you?

After the Prosecution has made a final decision on the nature and course of the prosecutorial action that is taken against, you must decide on whether you want to plead guilty or claim trial to the Criminal charge.

» What if you need more time to conduct the plea bargaining and negotiation process?

The Court can direct that the case takes place and is managed in a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) if the plea bargaining and negotiation process need more time to take place.

A PTC is an administrative hearing in a closed-door setting which is handled by a Judge with the attendance of your Criminal Defence lawyer and an officer representing the Prosecution (for example, Deputy Public Prosecutor). You must attend the PTC if you’re not represented by a Criminal Defence lawyer.

At the PTC, the Judge is updated on the progress and developments in the case, including the status of your plea bargaining and negotiation process with the Prosecution and whether any new decision has been reached by either party on how the course of action which they want to take.

When the Prosecution has informed the Court of its final decision on the nature and course of action that is taken against you, you must inform the Court of your response and decision:

  • If the Prosecution decides to proceed with the existing Criminal charge against you, you must decide whether you want to plead guilty or claim trial to that Criminal charge.
  • If the Prosecution decides to proceed with an alternative or amended Criminal charge against you (for example, for a less serious offence), you must decide whether you ultimately want to plead guilty or claim trial to that Criminal charge.

If you decide to plead guilty, the Court will schedule a date on which your case takes place in an open courtroom where you’ll be formally needed to plead guilty to the Criminal charge and be sentenced. This type of hearing in an open courtroom setting is also called a Mention.

If you decide to claim trial, the Court will schedule dates on which a trial takes place.

» What happens after you plead guilty or claim trial?

If you decide to plead guilty, the Judge will impose a sentence against you and you must comply with the sentence imposed (for example, pay a fine or financial penalty, serve a period of time in prison).

If you decide to claim trial, the Judge will review the evidence presented at a trial and arrive at a decision as to whether the Prosecution has succeeded in proving your guilt.

  • If the Prosecution succeeds in proving its case against you and that you committed the offence alleged, the Judge will convict you of the Criminal charge and impose a sentence against you.
  • If the Prosecution fails in proving its case against you and that you committed the offence alleged, the Judge will acquit you of the Criminal charge.

If you’re convicted of the Criminal charge, you’ll have an opportunity to tell the Judge any mitigating factors you have.

The Judge will review your mitigation plea and then impose a sentence against you.

Once the Judge has decided on the conviction and sentence, either party can make an appeal to the High Court in the following situations:

  • If you’re sentenced after having pleaded guilty and you disagree with the Judge’s decision, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed. You can make an appeal against sentence if you feel that it was manifestly excessive or not supported by the facts or the law. The Prosecution can make an appeal against the sentence if it feels that it was manifestly inadequate or not supported by the facts or the law.
  • If you’re convicted and sentenced after having claimed trial and you disagree with the Judge’s decisions, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the conviction and sentence.
  • If you’re acquitted after having claimed trial, the Prosecution can make an appeal to the High Court against the acquittal.

You must file the formal application for an appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of conviction or sentence.

The High Court will review the reasons for any appeal then make a final decision as to whether those reasons are of merit and deserving of the appeal succeeding.

PLEADING GUILTY

» What happens when you plead guilty to a Criminal charge?

When you plead guilty to a Criminal charge, you’re regarded as having accepted and acknowledged that you’ve committed the offence alleged in the Criminal charge and you are willing to be punished for the offence.

» What are the steps involved in pleading guilty?

If you are pleading guilty to the Criminal charge, you first must confirm that you understand the nature and consequences of pleading guilty and then the Court will accept your plea of guilt and convict you of the Criminal charge.

When you plead guilty to a Criminal charge, you’ll attend an open courtroom hearing (sometimes referred to as a Mention) before a Judge and attended by you or your Criminal Defence lawyer (if you’ve engaged one to represent you) and a Prosecuting Officer (for example, Deputy Public Prosecutor).

» What will the Charge and Statement of Facts (SOF) contain?

The Criminal charge and Statement of Facts (SOF) are read to you in a language which you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.

You’ll be asked to confirm that want to plead guilty to the Criminal charge and that you understand the nature and consequences of pleading guilty.

The Statement of Facts (SOF) is read to you.

  • This contains the material facts relating to the offence and which can describe the nature of your involvement and conduct in committing the offence
  • This also contains the facts which the Court are entitled to take into account in deciding the appropriate sentence to impose

You’ll be asked to admit to the facts as contained in the Statement of Facts:

  • If you do not admit to the facts contained in the Statement of Facts, you must inform the Court accordingly
  • If you disagree with parts of the Statement of Facts which are material and affect your acknowledgement and acceptance that you’ve committed the offence alleged, the Court will not accept your plea of guilt
  • If so, you’ll need to review whether you want claim trial to the Criminal charge because you want to continue to dispute the facts in question
  • Alternatively, you can inform the Court if you’re willing to concede and accept the facts as contained in the Statement of Facts

If you completely agree and accept the facts contained in the Statement of Facts, the Court will record your plea of guilt and convict you on the Criminal charge.

» Previous convictions

After you’re convicted of the Criminal charge, the Prosecuting Officer will then inform the Court of any relevant previous convictions which you have:

  • You must admit to and confirm that the list of previous convictions as described by the Prosecuting Officer is accurate
  • These previous convictions are considered by the Court in deciding the sentence to impose against you

» Mitigation

Before the Court decides on and imposes the sentence against you for the offence you’ve pleaded guilty to, you’ll have an opportunity to inform the Court of any mitigating factors which you have.

Mitigating factors are the facts, circumstances and reasons which you feel can justify a more lenient or less serious sentence imposed against you. These factors can include information and facts relating to your own personal circumstances as well as those relating to the circumstances surrounding how the offence had been committed or occurred.

You can present the mitigating factors in a written or oral mitigation plea.

» Sentencing

After reviewing your mitigation plea as well as any arguments made by the Prosecution in relation to the issue of sentencing, the Judge will impose a sentence against you.

Once the Judge has decided on the conviction and sentence, either party can make an appeal to the High Court in the following situations:

  • If you’re sentenced after having pleaded guilty and you disagree with the Judge’s decision, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed. You can make an appeal against sentence if you feel that it was manifestly excessive or not supported by the facts or the law. The Prosecution can make an appeal against the sentence if it feels that it was manifestly inadequate or not supported by the facts or the law.
  • If you’re convicted and sentenced after having claimed trial and you disagree with the Judge’s decisions, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the conviction and sentence.
  • If you’re acquitted after having claimed trial, the Prosecution can make an appeal to the High Court against the acquittal.

You must file the formal application for an appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of conviction or sentence.

The High Court will review the reasons for any appeal then make a final decision as to whether those reasons are of merit and deserving of the appeal succeeding.

MITIGATION

» What is a mitigation plea?

After you’re found guilty and convicted of an offence, the Court will review what type and amount of sentence to impose against you.

Before the Court decides on and imposes the sentence, you’ll have an opportunity to inform the Court of any mitigating factors which you have.

Mitigating factors are facts, circumstances and reasons which you feel would justify a more lenient or less serious sentence imposed against you e.g. information and facts relating to your own personal circumstances, information and facts relating to the circumstances surrounding how the offence were committed or occurred.

The plea in mitigation (also known as the mitigation plea) is the written or oral presentation to the Court of your mitigation factors.

This is presented by your Criminal Defence lawyer or by yourself if you’re not legally represented.

A mitigation plea prepared by a Criminal Defence lawyer is in English. However, an interpreter can be provided to translate your mitigation plea for the Court’s understanding if you’re represented by a Criminal Defence lawyer and you want to orally present your mitigation plea in another language.

» What does a mitigation plea contain?

As the purpose of a mitigation plea is to persuade the Court to impose a lower, less severe or more appropriate punishment (in your view) for the offence committed, it should aim to highlight the following types of information for the Court’s review:

  • Factors relating to your personal circumstances e.g. your family background, education and employment track record, medical conditions, evidence that sheds light on your character and attitude as well as information regarding his potential to be rehabilitated and to be reformed from your offending behaviour.
  • Factors relating to the manner in which the offence was committed e.g. your specific role, the value of the property involved, the degree of any injury caused to the victim as well as other circumstances which allow the Court to better understand the context in which the offence took place (for example, provocation by the victim).

A mitigation plea must not include information which contradicts the Statement of Facts which you pleaded guilty to or disputes the facts and conclusions arrived at by the Judge after a trial.

» What happens after you present your mitigation plea?

After hearing your mitigation plea and any arguments by the Prosecution regarding the issue of sentencing, the Judge will impose a sentence against you.

Once the Judge has decided on the conviction and sentence, either party can make an appeal to the High Court in the following situations:

  • If you’re sentenced after having pleaded guilty and you disagree with the Judge’s decision, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed. You can make an appeal against sentence if you feel that it was manifestly excessive or not supported by the facts or the law. The Prosecution can make an appeal against the sentence if it feels that it was manifestly inadequate or not supported by the facts or the law.
  • If you’re convicted and sentenced after having claimed trial and you disagree with the Judge’s decisions, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the conviction and sentence.
  • If you’re acquitted after having claimed trial, the Prosecution can make an appeal to the High Court against the acquittal.

You must file the formal application for an appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of conviction or sentence.

The High Court will review the reasons for any appeal then make a final decision as to whether those reasons are of merit and deserving of the appeal succeeding.

SENTENCING

» What are the objectives of sentencing?

There are 4 main sentencing principles which guide the Court during sentencing:

  • Retribution: this is the principle that the offender must suffer the penalty for the criminal act which he has carried out. Importantly, the principle of retribution includes the rule that the punishment must appropriately, proportionately and accurately reflect and fit the seriousness of the criminal act committed and the harm it has caused.
  • Deterrence: this is the principle that other potential offenders must be discouraged and reminded that they must not commit similar offences. This principle includes 2 other categories:
    • General deterrence: this aims to educate members of the general public and deter other potential offenders by making an example of one specific offender to send a strong message that such offences will not be tolerated and are punished severely.
    • Specific deterrence: this aims to educate and deter a specific individual offender (for example, a repeat offender) by sending a strong message that his particularly reprehensible actions (for example, unrepentant behaviour) will not be tolerated and they are punished severely.
  • Prevention: this is the principle that the offender must be physically incapacitated and removed from general public society because the members of the general public need to be protected from his dangerous behaviour and conduct.
  • Rehabilitation: this is the principle that seeks to help the offender reform himself from his offending behaviour and into a law-abiding person. This is principle is a major review for young offenders and those below 21-years of age.

» Why does the Court need to review the public interest?

The public interest is also a principal review which every Court will review in imposing sentence:

  • This is because of the strong emphasis in Singapore on the importance of maintaining social order in the community by ensuring that every person obeys and follows the law.
  • This belief behind this principle is that sentencing is important to reduce the occurrence of crime and to protect the members of our community.
  • As such, the Court can impose a more severe sentence for an offence which is becoming increasingly prevalent so that the general public and potential offenders are reminded of the seriousness of the offence and not to commit them.
  • In such a situation, the Court can take into account that public interest must outweigh any other mitigating factors (for example an offender’s young age and that a more severe sentence is justified despite the presence of such mitigating factors).

CLAIMING TRIAL

» What happens when you claim trial to the Criminal charge?

When you’re charged in Court for an offence, you must inform the Court of the course of action you want to take, either:

  • Plead guilty (meaning you want to admit to the Criminal charge and accept that you’ll be punished for the offence)
  • Claim trial (meaning you want to deny that you committed the offence as alleged and you want to prove your innocence or give your defence at a trial in Court)

If you claim trial, a court hearing is scheduled for you to defend yourself – this is where you present the evidence to persuade the Court to accept your basis for disputing the offence alleged. You can engage a Criminal Defence lawyer to represent you at a trial or you can conduct the trial on your own if you do not have one.

An administrative hearing known as a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) is conducted to manage the progress of the case up to the day of the trial.

  • The purpose of the PTC is to allow the parties to discuss how they want to manage the presentation of their evidence and make efficient use of the time allotted for the trial
  • Trial hearing dates are scheduled once the parties involved in the case are prepared to start the trial
  • The number of trial dates allocated depends on how many issues and how much evidence are involved in the case i.e. more trial dates are allocated for a case involving many or complicated issues and a large amount of evidence
  • You must inform the Court of the evidence that you’ll be presenting and relying on
  • You’ll also need to confirm the number of witnesses you want to call and their availability to attend the trial. If any of your witnesses do not speak English, the Court will provide interpreters for the trial.
  • You’ll be responsible for ensuring that your witnesses attend the trial. You can apply to the Court to issue a formal notice (sometimes called a Subpoena) to make your witnesses attend the trial if you believe that they cannot attend voluntarily

» What happens at the trial?

At the criminal trial, the Prosecution will present their evidence first:

  • The Prosecution will call their witnesses to testify and give evidence
  • The Prosecuting Officer will conduct the examination-in-chief (EIC) of each Prosecution’s witness to present his evidence
  • After the EIC of each witness, your Criminal Defence lawyer can conduct the cross-examination of the witness by asking him questions to challenge or contradict his testimony given by the witness.
  • After the cross-examination, the Prosecuting Officer will conduct the re-examination of the witness by asking him to explain the answers provided during cross-examination.

After all the Prosecution’s witnesses have testified and given evidence, it will be the your turn to present the evidence of your Defence witnesses – your witnesses will give evidence following the same procedure used for the examination of the Prosecution’s witnesses (meaning examination-in-chief followed by cross-examination and re-examination).

» What happens after all the witnesses have testified at the trial?

After all the Prosecution’s and Defence’s  witnesses have finished testifying and giving evidence at the trial, the Prosecution and Defence (meaning you or your Criminal Defence lawyer) will present oral or written closing submissions to summarise the evidence presented at the trial and give reasons to convince the Judge why he should accept their respective evidence and why he should decide in their favour.

After closing submissions are presented, the Judge reviews the evidence and reasons and makes a final decision as to whether the Prosecution has succeeded in proving your guilt.

  • If the Prosecution has proven its case against you and that you committed the offence alleged, the Judge will convict you of the Criminal charge and impose a sentence against you
  • If the Prosecution has failed to prove its case against you, the Judge will acquit you of the Criminal charge

If you’re convicted of the Criminal charge, you’ll have an opportunity to inform the Judge of any mitigating factors which you have.

The Judge will review your mitigation plea and then impose a sentence against you.

Once a decision on the conviction and sentence is made by the Judge, either party can make an appeal to the High Court in the following situations:

  • If you’re sentenced after pleading guilty and you disagree with the Judge’s decision, you can make an appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed. You can appeal against the sentence if you feel that it was manifestly excessive (meaning too harsh) or not supported by the facts or the law.
  • The Prosecution can appeal against your sentence if it feels that it was manifestly inadequate (meaning too lenient) or not supported by the facts or the law.
  • If you’re convicted and sentenced after claiming trial and you disagree with the Judge’s decisions, you can appeal to the High Court against the conviction and sentence.
  • If you’re acquitted after claiming trial, the Prosecution can appeal to the High Court against your acquittal.

You must file a written application for your appeal within 10 calendar days from the date of conviction or sentence.

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