What happens when you Compound your Criminal Charge in a Night Court case?
If you’re involved in a Criminal case in Court and you’re facing regulatory and minor traffic offences, you may be given the opportunity to compound or pay a composition fine to resolve your case instead of having to plead guilty in Court.
The composition of an offence is an out-of-court settlement offered by the prosecuting agency, where you make payment of an administrative financial penalty orderly to the prosecuting agency to avoid prosecution in Court. Prosecution in Court potentially leads to a fine amount being imposed by the Court that is higher than the amount of composition offered by the prosecuting agency, or the Court may potentially also impose some other punishment.
In some cases involving other minor offences, the composition of an offence can involve paying compensation to the victim or making an apology to the victim.
If an offence has been compounded, the case is closed and the accused person is not considered as having been convicted of the crime and he will therefore not have any criminal record for the offence.
Generally speaking, only offences that are minor and private in nature can be compounded. A list of the offences that can be compounded is found in the Fourth Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code.
You can compound an offence if composition is offered by the Prosecuting Agency, for example the Traffic Police or National Environment Agency (NEA). Payment should be made before the expiry date of the offer of composition, and in any event before the date of the Night Court, failing which, you would have to attend at the Night Court. If you’re convicted by the Court, the fine imposed will generally be higher than the amount offered for composition. It is therefore in your interest to check with the respective Prosecuting Agencies for more information on the composition of your offence and where composition is offered, to compound early.
For minor traffic and parking offences prosecuted by the Traffic Police, Land Transport Authority, Housing and Development Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, you can compound the offence by making payment through designated portals such as AXS kiosks, on the AXS website or through the AXS app. Payment via AXS can be made with NETS and credit card transactions, and is a convenient way of paying the composition fine.
However, there is generally a prescribed period for you to compound the offence. If the period for you to compound your offence has expired, you’ll have to:
- Plead guilty and pay the Court fine using ATOMS (where this is available for your offence); or
- Attend at the Night Courts to plead guilty.
The offer of composition can also be revoked by the Prosecuting Agency, e.g. when you fail to attend Court and a Warrant of Arrest is issued. It is therefore in your interest to compound early, while the offer of composition is still available to you.
So, there you’ve it, some basic information on: What happens when you Compound your Criminal Charge in a Night Court case