Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore

Last updated on March 12, 2021

house on fire

Apart from the damage that can be caused by fire, the legal consequences of you being charged with fire-related offences can be serious. There are a number of offences in Singapore relating to fire and each comes with heavy penalties.

This article will discuss:

If you have been involved in arson or other fire-related offences, read on to find out more about what you should know and can do.

What is Arson? 

Arson refers to the act of deliberately setting fire to a property. In Singapore, an arsonist may be charged for the offence of mischief by fire. There are two forms of mischief by fire defined in the Penal Code.

The first is when the offence is committed with the intent to cause damage to any property. This carries a punishment of an imprisonment term of up to 7 years, and a fine.

The second form of mischief by fire is when the offence is committed with the intent to destroy a building such as a house or place of worship. This carries a harsher punishment of either life imprisonment, or an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, and a fine.

An example of mischief by fire with the intent to destroy a building would be setting a family flat on fire. In 2018, in a state of anger, a man poured cooking oil into his mother’s wardrobe and threw burning papers into it. He then proceeded to set fire to his mother’s mattress and his younger brother’s wardrobe. He had done all these with the intention of destroying the entire unit. As a result, he was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment.

Is Mischief by Fire an Arrestable Offence?

Both forms of mischief by fire are arrestable offences. An arrestable offence is one where the police can arrest a suspect without a warrant.

For example, if the authorities discovered that a person had set fire to a place or thing(s) and therefore reasonably suspect that an offence has been committed, the alleged offender can be arrested without a warrant.

Once the suspect has been arrested, it is up to the police or the court to decide whether to release them on bail.

How will Offenders be Sentenced for Mischief by Fire in Singapore?

In deciding the sentence for offenders convicted of mischief by fire, the court may consider the following factors:

  • The extensiveness of the damage caused by the fire, with reference to the costs of reinstating a property or place. Where the fire resulted in extensive damage, a harsher sentence may be imposed.
  • Whether the offender has past criminal records, and if so, whether these records are of similar nature. For example, if the offender has multiple violence-related offence records, it may reflect the offender’s propensity to commit violent offences, and warrant a stiffer sentence.
  • Whether, at the time of the offence, the offender’s judgement was impaired due to his/her psychiatric condition. If this can be established, the court may consider imposing a more lenient sentence. However, if it is found that the offender’s judgement had not been impaired despite him/her having a psychiatric condition, then the fact that the offender was under a psychiatric condition at the time of the offence may have little impact in reducing the offender’s sentence.
  • Whether the offender had pleaded guilty instead of claiming trial. Where the offender chose to plead guilty, this may be a mitigating factor and attract a lighter sentence.

Will People Convicted of Mischief by Fire have a Criminal Record?

Yes, if you are convicted of mischief by fire, you will have a criminal record.

However, you might still have the opportunity to have your criminal record treated as spent after a certain period of time. This simply means that your record will be wiped clean. To qualify for having your record spent, you must first meet the following criteria:

  • If you were given a prison sentence, your imprisonment term must have been not more than 3 months;
  • If you were given a fine, the fine imposed on you must have been not more than $2,000;
  • You must not have any other conviction on your criminal record; and
  • You must not have any previous spent record on the register.

If you meet these criteria, you then have to remain crime-free for at least 5 consecutive years, starting from the date of your release from prison, or from the date that your sentence was passed if you were given a fine. Once you accomplish this, your record will be spent automatically, and you will be able to legally declare that you do not have a criminal record.

Other Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore

Apart from mischief by fire, there are other fire-related offences in Singapore you could be charged with.

Causing or contributing to risk of fire 

A person may be liable for an offence of causing or contributing to risk of dangerous fire where the fire:

  • Is likely to cause or causes hurt or injury;
  • Endangers human life;
  • Causes damage or diminishes the value of any property;
  • Causes grievous hurt; and/or
  • Causes death.

Note that where a person deposits, drops, places or throws a cigarette or any part of a cigarette, and a fire occurs at that same place within 60 minutes, the person will be presumed to have caused the fire, unless he/she is able to prove otherwise.

The severity of the punishment depends on the consequence(s) of the fire. For example, a fire that endangers human life attracts an imprisonment term of up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $5,000. However, if the fire causes death, an offender will be sentenced to up to 7 years of imprisonment and/or fined.

Criminal intimidation involving a threat to destroy property with fire

Criminal intimidation is an offence under the Penal Code. It is committed when there is a threat to cause injury to either the body, reputation or property of a person, or the body or reputation of anyone that person knows, while intending to:

  • Cause alarm;
  • Cause that person to do an act that he is not legally required to do; or
  • Stop that person from doing an act that he is legally entitled to do

Under the Penal Code, a threat to destroy property with fire is an aggravated form of criminal intimidation. In such a case, the offender will be sentenced to up to 10 years of imprisonment and/or fined.

False alarm of fire 

Under the Fire Safety Act, you could also land yourself in trouble if you knowingly give a false alarm of fire to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). The maximum punishment for such an offence is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or an imprisonment term of up to 3 months.

Causing a fire hazard 

As an owner or occupier, causing a fire hazard at a building is also an offence under the Fire Safety Act. This includes any omission(s) or act(s) that causes a fire hazard. Examples of fire hazards include:

  • Overcrowding of a building that makes escaping in the event of fire more difficult
  • The failure to maintain and/or repair faulty fire safety equipment
  • Obstruction of a fire escape route

SCDF may take immediate prosecutorial action where there are serious fire safety risks. This means that it can charge parties where an offence is believed to be committed. The SCDF may also enter any premises that may contain evidence of offences under the Fire Safety Act, conduct investigations and take statements for possible fire safety violations, and take action against any party who supplies or installs non-compliant fire safety products.

An offence under the Fire Safety Act carries a punishment of up to 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000. On top of that, where the offence continues after conviction, a further fine of up to $1,000 per day or part thereof can be ordered.

Next Steps

If you have been a victim of arson or a fire-related offence, you should make a police report about the arson so that the perpetrator may be arrested as soon as possible, and investigations can commence.

If you have been charged with mischief by fire and/or fire-related offence(s), you have a choice to represent yourself. Nonetheless, there are benefits to discussing your options with a criminal defence lawyer. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will be able to provide a realistic assessment of your case and the possible options you have moving forward.

The criminal defence lawyer could also represent you in criminal proceedings to bring out any appropriate defences and/or mitigating factors to obtain the most favourable outcome for you.

Feel free to consult our experienced criminal defence lawyers for assistance today.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  2. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  3. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  4. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  5. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  6. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  7. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  8. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  9. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  10. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  11. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  12. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  13. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  14. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  15. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  16. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  17. 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. What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
  2. Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
  3. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  4. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  5. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  6. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  7. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  8. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
After Criminal Proceedings
  1. Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
  2. Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
  3. Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
  4. Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
  5. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  6. Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
  7. Criminal Records in Singapore
  8. Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
  9. Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
Types of Sentences After Committing an Offence
  1. How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  2. Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
  3. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  4. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  5. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  6. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  7. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  8. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  9. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  10. Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
Being a Victim
  1. Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
  2. Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
  3. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
  4. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  5. 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. Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
  4. Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
  5. How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
  6. Cybersexual Crimes in Singapore and Their Penalties
  7. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  8. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  9. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  10. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  11. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  12. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  13. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  14. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  15. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  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. Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services 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
  1. Tax Evasion in Singapore: Penalties and Examples
  2. Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
  3. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  4. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  5. 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
  6. 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. Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
  2. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  3. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  4. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  5. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  6. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
Gang and Riot-related Offences
  1. Penalties for Unlawful Assembly and Rioting in Singapore
  2. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
  3. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
Marriage-Related Offences
  1. What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal 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. Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
  3. Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
  4. Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
  5. What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
  6. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  7. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore