What happens in the Mentions Court in a Criminal Case?
If you’re involved in a Criminal case in Court, the Criminal Mentions Court is the first Court where you’ll have to personally attend to be formally charged and to give your plea (i.e. whether you’re pleading guilty or pleading not guilty).
Court attendance at the Mention is compulsory. If you fail to attend Court, a Warrant of Arrest can be issued against you. If you fail to attend Court while you’re on bail, your bailor will have to explain to the Court why the bail amount should not be forfeited.
If you’re charged in your personal capacity, you’ll need to bring proof of your identity and personal particulars (e.g. NRIC or driver’s licence). If you’re appearing on behalf of a company(or any other corporate entity) that’s facing Criminal charges, you’ll also need to bring a letter of authorisation from the company which states and confirms that you’re authorised to attend Court on behalf of the company and represent it during the Court proceedings.
At the Mentions Court, the Court will handle many other cases apart from yours. When it is time for your case to be conducted, your name and case will be announced and the charge and its prescribed punishment will then be read and explained to you in the language you choose. You must ensure that you understand what the charge against you is about, and the range of punishment that can be imposed on you. If you do not understand, you must ask for clarification or seek legal advice.
This Court will ask you to indicate whether you want to plead guilty or if you want claim trial to contest and challenge the charge issued against you.
What happens if you decide to Plead Guilty (PG)?
If you inform the Court that you plan to plead guilty to your charges, the Court will generally schedule the case to be conducted on another day where you’ll be given the opportunity to plead guilty and where the sentence will be imposed. Your next Court hearing is sometimes called the Plead Guilty Mention.
What happens if you decide to Claim Trial?
If you decide to claim trial and challenge or contest the charges, the Court will generally schedule the case for a Pre-Trial Conference (also called a PTC) and the case will be transferred from the Mentions Court to the PTC Centre. Once the case has been moved to a Pre-Trial Conference, the Court will use the Court sessions to monitor and manage the progress of the case as it moves forward towards an actual trial being conducted.
What happens if your case is adjourned?
If your case is adjourned to another date, the Court will decide if you can be released on bail for the time being until the next Court hearing.
Generally, you can be given bail unless there are reasonable grounds for the Court to believe that you’ll not attend the next Court hearing or commit other offences whilst on bail. If you’re already on bail given by the Police during the investigations, your existing bail can be extended or you can be given new Court bail. You should bring along a family member or friend who is a Singaporean at your first appearance at the Mentions Court, in case you need someone to bail you.
So, there you’ve it, some basic information on: what happens in the Mentions Court in a Criminal Case