by | Oct 30, 2023

Here are some things you should know about arrests made by the Police or other enforcement agencies:

What is an arrest?

An arrest is the act of apprehending a person and taking them into custody, usually because they have been suspected of committing or planning a crime.

Who can conduct an arrest?

  • The Police and other enforcement agencies such as the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) can  conduct arrests.
  • An ordinary civilian who is not a Police or enforcement officer may also conduct an arrest of another person if that has, in the view or presence of the civilian carrying out the arrest, committed an arrestable offence. If an arrest is carried out in this way, the civilian carrying the arrest must hand over the arrested person to a Police officer or take him to a Police station without unnecessary delay.

When can you be arrested?

  • The Police can arrest you with or without obtaining a Court-issued warrant in order to take you into their custody for investigations or to formally charge you in Court.
  • If a warrant has not been obtained, the Police can only conduct the arrest when they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed an arrestable offence.
  • A list of arrestable offences is set out in the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code, and includes the following offences:
    1. Theft
    2. Cheating
    3. Criminal breach of trust
    4. Criminal intimidation
    5. Criminal trespass
    6. Dishonestly receiving or retaining stolen property
    7. Extortion
    8. Robbery
    9. Rape
    10. Unlawful assembly
    11. Rioting
    12. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
    13. Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means
    14. Wrongful confinement
    15. Wrongful restraint
    16. Sexual assault by penetration, without consent (including oral or anal sex)
    17. Commercial sex with minor under 18 years of age
    18. Doing obscene act or reciting obscene song in a public place
    19. Trafficking, possession or consumption of drugs
    20. Offences under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (formerly named the Computer Misuse Act)
    21. Offences under the Vandalism Act
    22. Assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty.
  • For non-arrestable offences, the Police will generally need to obtain a Warrant from the Court before they can effect an arrest.
  • The Police are allowed to use reasonable force against you to effect the arrest:
    1. You cannot be subjected to more restraint than is necessary to prevent your escape.
    2.  Police are also allowed to search you after the arrest has been made
    3. A woman who has been arrested can only be searched by a female officer
  • When you are being arrested, you may ask the officer effecting the arrest for his formal identification and the reason for your arrest.

How long can you be detained after arrest?

  • After your arrest, you may be detained in custody for up to a maximum of 48 hours from the time of your arrest before you must be released.
  • If you are required by the Police or the agency effecting the arrest or carrying out the investigation to be detained beyond 48 hours, they must bring you to Court and obtain permission from the Court by providing the reasons for the extension.
  • If not, you will be released from custody on the condition that you promise to a present yourself whenever your attendance is next required (e.g. attending at a Police station to assist with investigations or to attend Court to answer for formal criminal charges).

How soon will you be allowed to contact your lawyer after arrest?

  • You will be allowed to consult a lawyer within a reasonable time allowed for the Police to carry out their investigations. The duration of this period of time will depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case and it may be increased if the Police can show that allowing you to contact or consult your lawyer would hinder their investigations or the administration of justice.
  • During investigations process, the Police may interview you and require you to provide a signed statement. If the Police decide to formally take action against you and charge you in Court, you will be given an opportunity to provide your defence or explanation to the Charge in writing (in a Cautioned Statement).

If you would like to understand more about Criminal Law in Singapore how the issues discussed in this article may affect you, contact Singapore Criminal Defence Lawyer Jonathan Wong at [email protected] or +65 8886 0278 today.
About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.