Here are some things you should know about investigations conducted by the Police or other enforcement agencies:
Why are investigations conducted?
- Investigations are conducted to obtain information and evidence for the purpose of determining the following:
- Whether there is sufficient evidence to show that a criminal offence has potentially been disclosed
- Whether there is any basis or sufficient evidence to take any action against any person for the criminal offence disclosed
Who can conduct investigations?
- The Police can conduct investigations into potential criminal offences.
- 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) as well as some Statutory Boards can also conduct investigations into potential criminal or regulatory offences
Can you be detained during investigations?
- If you are arrested as part of the Police’s investigations, you may be detained in their custody for a maximum of 48 hours from the time of your arrest before you must be released.
- If there is a need to detain you beyond 48 hours, the Police or the agency effecting the arrest or carrying out the investigation 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 as and when your attendance is required (e.g. attending at a Police station to assist with investigations or to attend Court to answer for formal criminal charges) or if you are granted bail.
What can be done during investigations?
- The Investigating Officer (IO) conducting the investigations may do the following:
- Interview and ask you questions about what you know about certain facts and circumstances relating the offence being investigated. The interview will be conducted in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.
- Record a written statement signed by you which contains the information you have provided during the interview. The statement will be recorded in English and explained to you in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary.
- Search a place to look for property, documents, physical objects and other material which may be relied on as evidence
- Take possession of physical evidence which may be used as exhibits in the case
What statements will you be asked to provide?
- There are generally two types of statements which you may be asked to provide during investigations
- Witness Statement / Investigation Statement
- Cautioned Statement
What is a Witness Statement?
- A Witness Statement / Investigation Statement contains your account of the facts and circumstances relating the offence being investigated:
- You are required to tell the truth in this statement
- It is a criminal offence to lie or provide false information in this statement, and you are liable to be prosecution for doing so
- The interview will be conducted in the language that you understand and through an interpreter if necessary. The statement recorded in English will also be interpreted to you in the language that you understand.
- You will be provided with an opportunity to read and amend your statement before signing it to ensure that it contains an accurate account of what you had said during your interview to the investigators
- You are entitled to 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 considered to have been voluntarily recorded from by you if you had provided 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 are being being formally charged for an offence, you will be given a warning / notice in a Cautioned Statement to provide your defence or explanation in response the charge.
- The charge (including the criminal act / conduct alleged and the prescribed punishment) must be explained to you in the language that you understand and by an interpreter if necessary
- You will reminded to mention the facts which you intend 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 may not believe your defence
- You will be provided with an opportunity to read and amend this statement before signing it to ensure that it contains an accurate account of what you have to say in response to the charge
Do you have the right to remain silent when you are being formally charged?
- You have the right to remain silent (and not mention the facts which you intend to rely on in your defence) when you are being formally charged and asked to sign the Cautioned Statement.
- However, your defence may 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 may be because the Court may feel that your defence has only been recently created and it is less credible or it is not true.
What documents can I obtain from the Police if I am being investigated?
- You can obtain 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. Examples of an FIR are a Police Report lodged by a complainant or the transcript of the telephone call made by the complainant through the Police “999” Telephone Hotline.
- You will be required to pay for the copies of the documents obtained from the Police.
- You are not entitled to obtain a copy of your Witness Statement or the Witness Statement made by any other witness in the investigations.
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.