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Your rights as an accused

You have the right to obtain legal advice, seek legal assistance or engage a lawyer to represent you in court at your criminal proceedings.

You may wish to find out:

The courts are not able to provide legal advice. Legal advice is when you are provided specific information about your legal matter and guidance on the legal options available to you.

Refer to the following to find out about the legal resources, legal assistance schemes and programmes you can apply for.

Engage a lawyer

The Legal Service Regulatory Authority (LSRA) offers an online directory of the names, addresses and other useful information of all practising lawyers in Singapore.

You may also approach any of the following organisations for legal advice:

Note
The courts are not in a position to recommend lawyers for your case. Contact a law firm or organisation of your choice directly to understand their fees and the services they provide.

Apply for legal assistance schemes

If you are in need of a lawyer but unable to afford one, you may apply for the following legal assistance schemes relevant to your case.

Note

You may have to satisfy a means test to qualify for some of the schemes.

A means test assesses your financial circumstances to determine if you have limited means to apply for a particular scheme.

The Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (LASCO) offers free legal counsel for those who are charged with capital offences (where the penalty may be death), regardless of nationality. There is also no means test to pass or eligibility criteria to satisfy for LASCO.

Under the scheme, you will be assigned legal counsel to represent you in court once you are charged with a capital offence, This usually consists of 2 practising defence lawyers (one leading and one assisting) who will represent you at trial and on appeal.

The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS) offers free legal counsel for those who are charged with certain non-capital offences (non-death penalty offences). Under the scheme, a volunteer lawyer will be assigned to represent you in court after you have passed the means and merits test.

Contact the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office to find out the following:

  • Who can apply for CLAS.
  • How to file an application for CLAS.

The community legal clinic offers free, basic legal advice for personal matters during one-to-one sessions lasting about 20 minutes.

Contact the Law Society Pro Bono Services Office to find out more information.

The on-site legal clinic (OSLAS) offers 20 minutes of basic legal advice from a volunteer lawyer for free. However, this lawyer will not be able to represent you in court.

The OSLAS only applies to those who are seeking legal advice for the first time on a specific legal issue not relating to commercial, corporate or business matters.

Contact the CJC to find out more about OSLAS.

The Guidance for Plea Scheme (GPS) offers free legal advice from volunteer lawyers for the self-represented accused (also known as a litigant-in-person (LIP)) who does not qualify for the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme (CLAS). However, the lawyer under this scheme will not represent you in court.

If you are an LIP, this scheme can help you:

  • Navigate the criminal justice process.
  • Clarify the viability of your defence.
  • Decide whether to plead guilty or claim trial, depending on your case.

Contact the CJC to find out more about GPS.

The remand clinic offers 20 minutes of free legal advice from a volunteer lawyer for those currently remanded in prison due to not being able to post bail. However, this lawyer will not be able to represent you in court.

There are no means or merits tests to qualify for the clinic. Those in remand may apply for the clinic through their remand institution.

The Primary Justice Project (PJP) aims to help the self-represented accused (also known as a litigant-in-person (LIP)) to better understand the nature and consequences of entering a plea, be it to plead guilty or to claim trial.

Contact the CJC to find out the following:

  • Who can apply for the PJP.
  • How to apply for the PJP.

Get support and information

The CJC provides self-represented parties with the following information and practical support services.

The Friends of Litigants-in-Person (FLiP) programme empowers the self-represented accused (also known as a litigant-in-person (LIP)) with the emotional support and confidence to represent themselves in court.

Under the programme, a volunteer will be assigned to you to:

  • Provide practical guidance on basic court processes and procedural matters.
  • Accompany and attend your court hearings.
  • Explain key information and instructions given by the judge.

Contact the CJC to find out the following:

  • Who can apply for the FLiP programme.
  • How to apply for the FLiP programme.

The Helping to Empower Litigants-in-Person (HELP) Centre provides directions for court procedures and processes for criminal matters, evening legal clinics and referrals to appropriate partners for legal and social issues faced by self-represented parties.

Contact the CJC to find out more information.

Relevant resources

You may wish to refer to the Know the law booklet to find out about commonly encountered areas of the law in layman terms.


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