7 Stages Of Singapore Criminal Proceedings In Court

Stages Leading to Criminal Proceedings 


A Criminal Proceeding is a process in the Singapore justice system wherein a proceeding is held in the court to prosecute a person charged (or to be charged) with the commission of a crime. A Criminal Proceeding does not only include the trial of the criminal offence but also includes: 

  1. The appeal proceedings; and 
  2. The criminal revision of the Criminal Proceedings.


1 – Initiation Of Criminal Court Proceedings  


Under section 150 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a criminal proceeding is initiated following an arrest, a summons, an arrest warrant, a notice to attend court, or any other mode for compelling the attendance of the person in court.  

For non-arrestable offence, upon the offence being reported, filed and/or recorded, a police officer shall thereupon investigate the matter and the informant, by the order of a police officer, be referred to a Magistrate.

The Magistrate in charge of the matter, must then determine if there is sufficient reason to proceed with the “complaint” made.

In event that the Magistrate has a reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed, the Magistrate may then issue a summons to attend to court or issue an arrest warrant against the accused. 

Upon the issuance of the summons and/or the arrest warrant, a criminal proceeding will be deemed to be initiated against the accused. 

On the other hand, for an arrestable offence, the police officer may investigate and if appropriate, arrest the offender after having a reasonable suspicion that an arrestable offence had been committed.

Thereafter, the police shall, without any unnecessary delay, and in any event, within 48 hours’ notice, take or send the person arrested before the Magistrate Court. 

In furtherance, a police officer of or above the rank of inspector can also serve a notice to attend court if the police officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the person has committed an offence. 


2 – Pleading Guilty Or Not Guilty In Singapore


Pleading Guilty

During the accused’s first appearance in court for a criminal proceeding, the charge(s) against the accused will be read and explained to the accused by a court officer in a language that the accused can understand. 

Thereafter, the accused may then choose to either plead guilty or not guilty. Any refusal to plead guilty will be deemed by the court as the accused intending to claim trial and to contest the allegations set out against the accused. 

In the event that the accused wishes to plead guilty, a plead guilty mention and a mitigation plea can be dealt with – within the same day.

The verdict can also be given on the same day and the court may decide on the sentence immediately. Alternatively, the accused may seek a later date for the mention to plead guilty.


Pleading Not Guilty


However, if the accused wishes to plead not guilty and/or to proceed to trial, the court will usually set out the date of the next pre-trial conference (PTC) and the criminal case management system (CCMS) for parties to discuss the criminal proceedings, to disclose information and to assess the relative merits of their case. 


3 – Pre-Trial Conference


The purpose of a PTC is to update the court of the progress of the criminal proceeding. Depending on the complexity of the matter, the criminal proceeding may have several PTCs before the trial.

The judge for the criminal proceeding will determine if the case is ready to proceed further depending on the status of the file during PTC.

During the PTC, the court may also provide the timeline for the filing of the Case for the Prosecution and the Case for the Defence pursuant to Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The presiding judge may also skim through the case to pre-determine the issues of fact or the issues of law to be tried prior to the trial.

Following the determination of issue, the presiding judge may then direct the parties in respect of the list of witness for the trial and also the statements and/or the documents and evidence to be admitted at the trial

Thereafter, the court may also direct parties to participate in a Criminal Case Disclosure Conference (CCDC) wherein parties will reveal their full case and evidence prior to the hearing.

This may allow the judge to review the prosecution’s case and to streamline the hearing if necessary. 

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4 – Going To Court Trial


Finally, a committal hearing date will be given by the presiding judge once parties are ready for trial. The committal hearing is the “trial” for the charges against the accused wherein the public prosecutor will be required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the crime.

The committal hearing will usually take 1 to 2 days depending on the complexity of the matter and may expand up to weeks if necessary, to resolve the matter.

During the committal hearing, the Public Prosecutor will be the first to present his case by outlining and establishing his case and to explain to the court the core issues in the criminal proceedings.

The Public Prosecutor will then call on his witness to give evidence through the Examination-in-Chief, wherein the witness will be questioned by the Public Prosecutor and his/her account will be given accordingly. 


5 – Cross-Examination By Both Sides


The Defence or the accused will then be given the opportunity to cross examine the Public Prosecutor’s witness

Thereafter, in continuation of the criminal proceeding, the Defence / accused will be given the opportunity to present his/her defence wherein the Defence / accused will be able to bring his own witness to the trial.

Similarly, the Defence / accused will then be allowed to call on his/her witness(es) to give evidence for the Defence and the Public Prosecutor will be allowed to cross-examine the witness(es) accordingly.


6 – Re-Examination During Court Trial


The Defence / accused will also be given the opportunity for a re-examination of the witness to clarify the witness’s testimony during the cross-examination. 

Thereafter, the Public Prosecutor may request for a recalling of witnesses for a re-examination if the court is convinced that the prosecutor had been misled or was taken by surprise by the Defence / accused’s case.

At the end of the trial, the judge will allow parties to provide their submissions accordingly based on all the evidence admitted at trial. 


7 – Mitigation Plea Before Getting To A Verdict


In the event that the Public Prosecutor succeeds in proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge will present his verdict and the criminal proceeding will then immediately proceed to a mitigation plea wherein the accused will persuade the Judge to give a lighter sentence.

The court will then consider the mitigating factors and the aggravating factors relevant to each case before providing his/her final verdict. Once this is completed, the criminal proceeding will be deemed close.  

Nevertheless, parties may appeal if any of the parties deemed that the judgment / sentence / order made contain an error in law or an error in fact, or that the sentence imposed is manifestly excessive or manifestly inadequate.



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Enquiry from Emerald Law


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