Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore

Last updated on March 11, 2019

Handcuffed hands

In recent years, multiple incidents have surfaced where punches were thrown and the police was called in, but no arrests were made.

In such cases, the police officers present at the scene merely restricted themselves to recording the identities of the parties involved, as well as questioning witnesses.

This has perplexed many Singaporeans. When will an arrest be made?

 

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Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t always the case! ? Before arresting someone, police officers must first assess the offence being committed and determine whether it is arrestable. – An arrestable offence is one that the police may arrest offenders for without a warrant. On the other hand, the police will need a warrant before arresting someone for a non-arrestable offence. Generally, offences punishable with death ? or 3 or more years of jail time are arrestable. You can check whether an offence is arrestable or non-arrestable in the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code. ?? – If an arrestable offence appears to have been committed (e.g theft, robbery, rape), the police is empowered to arrest the offender on the spot. If the offence appears to be non-arrestable (e.g voluntarily causing hurt), the police may only gather witness reports and record the identities of the parties involved, and advise the victim to file a Magistrate’s Complaint. – Upon receiving the Magistrate’s Complaint, the Magistrate will decide if the case is worth pursuing, and may issue a warrant for the alleged offender’s arrest. In any case, think twice before doing anything illegal, regardless of whether you’ll be arrested on the spot (or not!) ?? #SingaporeLegalAdvice

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Is the Alleged Offence Committed Arrestable or Non-Arrestable?

Upon arrival at the scene, the police will assess the situation and determine whether an arrestable offence might have been committed.

If an arrestable offence has been committed, or the police reasonably suspect that an arrestable offence has been committed, the police is empowered to arrest the alleged offender without a warrant. The police will follow the arrest procedure while doing so.

If the alleged offence appears to be non-arrestable, this does not mean that the police cannot arrest the alleged offender. Rather, it means that the police will need a warrant before they can make the arrest.

This is because the police cannot make an arrest without a warrant. It is up to the victim to decide whether he would like to take further action on the case.

What Happens if the Case Involves a Non-Arrestable Offence?

The police would gather witness reports and record the identities of parties involved. This is for report-writing purposes afterwards. The police would also ensure that any injured persons receive medical treatment.

Finally, the police would advise possible victims of non-arrestable offences to file a Magistrate’s Complaint at the Community Justice Tribunals Division (CJTD) of the State Courts.

Upon receiving the Magistrate’s Complaint, the Magistrate will decide if the case is worth pursuing, whether through State Prosecution, mediation or private prosecution. In the process, the Magistrate may issue a warrant for the alleged offender’s arrest.

Which Offences are Arrestable?

For offences found in the Penal Code

If an offence is found in the Penal Code, you can check whether it is arrestable by referring to the Third Column of the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

Offences labelled as “may arrest without warrant” are arrestable, while offences labelled as “shall not arrest without warrant” are non-arrestable.

For offences found in other legislation

If the offence is found in other legislation, you will have to check that legislation to see if the offence is arrestable.

If the legislation does not say anything on this issue, the default rule under the Third Column of the First Schedule of the CPC is that:

  • Offences punishable with death, or 3 or more years of imprisonment, are arrestable
  • Offences punishable with less than 3 years of imprisonment, or with a fine, are non-arrestable

The following are examples of arrestable offences under the Penal Code:

  1. Unlawful assemblies or rioting
  2. Impersonation of a public servant
  3. Obstructing a public servant in his duties, or threatening a public servant
  4. Affray (Fighting in public places)
  5. Fouling the water of a public spring or reservoir
  6. Driving rashly or negligently
  7. Commission of obscene acts in public
  8. Rape
  9. Theft and robbery
  10. Criminal trespass
  11. Assault or use of criminal force to a person with intent to outrage modesty (molest)
  12. Acts or attempts that cause or can cause death, including suicide, murder, or rash acts
  13. Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
  14. Voluntarily causing hurt with a dangerous weapon

It is worth noting that unlike the offences of voluntarily causing grievous hurt or voluntarily causing hurt with a dangerous weapon mentioned above, the “basic” voluntarily causing hurt offence is a non-arrestable offence. Persons alleged to have voluntarily caused hurt to others cannot be arrested if the police do not have a warrant for their arrest.

Victims should therefore file a Magistrate’s Complaint to have the court look into the matter and decide whether to issue an arrest warrant.

(Victims are also recommended to file a police report before that. The court often asks for a police report when the Magistrate’s Complaint is being filed.)

In addition, arrests can also be made if a person:

  1. Possesses housebreaking tools without a good excuse for doing so
  2. Possesses stolen property
  3. Obstructs police affairs
  4. Is an army deserter
  5. May be about to commit an offence
  6. Commits a non-arrestable offence in view of police and refuses to give his name and home address
  7. Offers a fake identity or place of residence
Arrest and Investigation
  1. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  2. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  3. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  4. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  5. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  6. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  7. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  8. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  9. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  10. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  11. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  12. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  13. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  14. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
Bail
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
Prosecution
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Compounding or Composition of Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  2. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  3. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  4. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  5. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  6. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  2. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  3. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  4. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  5. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  6. Criminal Records in Singapore
  7. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  8. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  2. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  3. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  4. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  5. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  6. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  7. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  8. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
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  2. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
  3. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  4. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
Offences Against the Human Body
  1. Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
  4. Kidnapping Scam: Penalties & Responding to a ‘Kidnap Call/Text'
Sexual Offences
  1. Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
  2. Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
  3. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  4. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  5. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  6. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  7. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  8. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  9. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  10. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  11. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
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  2. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  3. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  4. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  6. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  7. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  8. Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
  9. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
  1. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  2. Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  3. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  4. Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
  5. Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
  6. Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
Cybercrime
  1. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  2. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  3. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  4. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
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  2. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  5. Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
Road Offences
  1. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
  2. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  3. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  4. Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
  5. Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
  6. Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
  7. Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
  8. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
Animal-Related Offences
  1. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  2. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  2. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  3. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  4. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  5. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance in Singapore?
Other Criminal Offences
  1. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  2. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  3. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore