issued in 1993, archived here in April 2004
A guide to your legal rights
source: original document from People Like Us
Showing your Identity Card
There's no legal obligation to carry your NRIC at all times. A uniformed police officer can demand to inspect your NRIC if you have it on you. If you don't, he or she can ask that you produce it within a certain period.
He/she cannot detain you. A plainclothes police officer can only demand to inspect your NRIC if he/she can produce a written authorisation from the Commissioner of National Registration.
You can be arrested (without warrant) if, and only if, on demand, you refuse to give your name and address. Or, if you give a name or address which the officer has reason to believe is false. Or if you give as your address, a place outside Singapore.
(Practical tip - if the officer still insists that you follow him/her despite your having given the officer your name and address when you are not carrying your NRIC, ask the officer, in the presence of others, the reason for believing that the given particulars are false. You may use this information should you later decide to sue the police for false arrest.
You may be arrested without a warrant for committing all cases of molestation and unnatural sexual acts. However, the police must have:
Entrapment, unfortunately, is legal in Singapore. Entrapment cannot be raised as a defence to an offence in Singapore. A policeman can therefore make a pass at you and subsequently hand you in on that basis. The only safe course of action, really, is to avoid sex in public places.
You have the right to ask for the reason of arrest (always ask in the presence of witnesses).
The police may detain you for investigation for up to 48 hours, by which time they have to decide whether to release you unconditionally or pursue several other options:
For (2) and (3), you will have to be produced before a magistrate. You have the constitutional right to counsel, but this is not specified how soon after arrest. Access to counsel should be within "reasonable" time.
If you do not have access to counsel up to the point you are being
charged, you can tell the magistrate to reserve your plea (i.e.
guilty or not guilty) until you have sought legal advice, and to
ask for bail. A further hearing date will be given.
Police investigations and Statements
Statements you make to the police can be used against you in court only if they are not caused by any inducement, threat or promise with reference to the charge against you.
That is to say if you were not induced, e.g. "the prosecutor will ask for a lighter sentence if you cooperate" or threatened, e.g. "I'll break your nose if you don't confess", or promised, e.g. "I'll let you see your family if you confess".
If the police have used violence against you, ask to see a medical doctor immediately. If you are denied medical treatment, see a doctor as soon as you possible can. This is to preserve evidence of injuries which may arise out of the violence which has been used against you. Without a medical report to substantiate your claim that violence was used on you, your story may not be believed in Court.
Two kinds of voluntary statements will be recorded:
You have a right to an interpreter. You have the right to write down the statement, to correct it and to sign it. And you have the right to remain silent, but this may invite a negative inference being drawn by the judge in court since it I believed that if you are innocent, you will say something in your defence at this point (e.g. give an alibi that you could not have committed the crime since you were somewhere else and that you can prove it).
You should attempt to remember everything you have said to the police. You should also try to remember the statements which you have written down. One way is to make some private notes of what you said or wrote, as soon as you have the chance to do so. The Witness Statement referred to above is not available to your lawyers until and unless the Prosecution decides to produce it at the trial of your offence. If the Prosecution decides to produce your Witness Statement, it will be to impeach your credit in Court when you give oral evidence on the stand which is contradictory to your Witness Statement. Hence, it is very important that you try to remember what you have said to the police and what statements were taken from you. If your credit in Court is impeached, your story will be rejected by the Court and you may be convicted of an offence.
There are three courses of action open to you:
Run by volunteer lawyers under the Law Society, only those who cannot afford legal fees qualify for this scheme.
For more information, write to:
The Director, Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
If you cannot afford legal fees and are being charged in court and wish to seek legal advice or plead not guilty, you can inform the court and go to:
Criminal Legal Aid Scheme Office