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Plead guilty or claim trial

After your charges have been read, the judge may direct you to take the plea. This means that the court will ask you whether you wish to plead guilty, or to claim trial.

Refer to the following to understand what each of these legal terms mean, and what will happen after you make your decision.

Tip
As an accused person, this is the most important decision you would have to make. Consider your options carefully before you make your decision and seek legal help if in doubt.

If you intend to plead guilty, it means:
  • You admit to committing the offences as stated in the charges.
  • You agree with the facts as stated in the statement of facts (SOF) read out during your plead guilty (PG) mention.

The following conditions apply if you plead guilty:

  • You will not be allowed to contest the charges or claim trial once you have been convicted.
  • You will be convicted by the judge at a PG mention without a trial. The Mentions Court will inform you of the next date, time and venue of your PG mention.
    • For certain types of cases, the Mentions Court may be able to convict and sentence you on the spot.
  • You can appeal against your sentence but not your conviction.
  • You may receive a less severe punishment for committing the offence if you make an early plea of guilt.
By claiming trial, it means:
  • You dispute the charges against you.
  • You disagree with essential facts stated in the SOF.
  • You will have the option to defend yourself in a criminal trial.
  • Your case will be scheduled for a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC). The Mentions Court will inform you of the next date, time and venue for your PTC.
  • You can still plead guilty at any stage of your court proceedings before the judge delivers the final verdict.
Note
If your offence is punishable by death, a guilty plea cannot be taken at Mentions Court. The prosecution has to produce evidence and prove their case in a criminal trial.

Other possible orders: Order of remand and adjournment

The judge may also make either or both of the following orders:

The judge may order you to be placed in remand. This means you will be held in custody (when a person is kept in prison or police cell before a court appearance). There are two scenarios where you may be remanded:
  • The prosecution may apply for you to be remanded for investigation or psychiatric examination. The court will consider whether the prosecution's application is in accordance with legal principles, and the merits of doing so. If the court is satisfied that it is necessary for you to be remanded, an order of remand will be made.
  • There is no bail offered or bail is offered but not taken up by a suitable bailor. You will be remanded until a suitable bailor posts bail or when your case concludes, whichever is earlier.

An adjournment means postponing a court hearing to another date. Either yourself or the prosecution may request an adjournment, supported by valid reasons.

Refer to the following for a non-exhaustive list of common reasons why the prosecution or the accused (you) may request for adjournment.

Possible reasons that may be given by the prosecution:

  • Conduct further investigations.
  • Apply for reports such as medical reports or Health Sciences Authority reports.
  • Obtain the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ directions on the case.
  • Review and reply to the representations made by the accused.

Possible reasons that may be given by the accused:

  • For time to appoint a lawyer or to apply for a lawyer to be assigned under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme.
  • Make representations to the prosecution.
  • Raise funds to pay the court fine.
  • Pay a composition fine (also known as compounding an offence).
  • Settle personal affairs before serving a sentence.

Request an adjournment

If you wish to request an adjournment, inform the judge during your court mention. If it is approved, you will receive a mention slip with the venue, date and time of your next court hearing.

Either the prosecution or you may also object to a request for an adjournment. The court will decide whether to approve the request for an adjournment in accordance with the law, based on the merits of doing so after hearing both sides.

If the case is adjourned, the judge will decide if you can be released on bail until the next hearing. You should also bring a bailor along to your court mentions, in case you need someone to post bail for you.

Tip

You may also apply to change your court mention date in writing or via the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) if you have valid reasons for being unable to attend court on the scheduled dates.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Legislation associated with this topic includes Section 158 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Related questions

You may submit a hard copy of your representations to the following address:

The Attorney-General’s Chambers
1 Upper Pickering Street
Singapore 058288.

Alternatively, you may submit your representations online on the AGC website. For more information, you may refer to the AGC website.

Your charge sheet will state the maximum sentence for each offence with which you are charged. For certain cases, your offence may also carry a minimum sentence. Both will be stated at the bottom of your charge sheet.

The court will rely on this range of sentences to decide on the appropriate punishment for your case. Your final sentence will depend on a variety of factors.

Your sentence will not necessarily be higher just because you claim trial. However, an accused person who pleads guilty early may receive a lower sentence, if the plea of guilt indicates genuine remorse.
Stern warnings (in lieu of prosecution) are administered by the police under the direction of the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The court is not in the position to administer a stern warning.
An increase of bail amount may depend on (but not limited to) any of the following factors:

  • If there are additional charges being tendered against the accused.
  • If the accused intends to appeal against the outcome of the matter (either the conviction or sentence).
  • If the accused applies to defer serving the sentence.
  • If there are any changes to the circumstances surrounding the case.
    • For example, if there is an increase in the likelihood of the accused leaving the country (also known as a flight risk).

In general, when an order to increase the bail amount is given, the additional bail offered is likely to be monetary bail. The additional bail must be provided by the current bailor, unless the court allows another person to stand as bailor for the additional bail.



2021/07/23

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