Claiming Trial as an Accused

Last updated on September 21, 2022

accused in court trial

Before one claims trial, there have to be few preceding events. First, one allegedly commits a crime. Then, he is arrested, and subsequently officially charged in court. Being officially charged in court means that an interpreter will read to the accused his offences, and explain them to him. Next, the accused will be asked how he wishes to plead to the charge. He can choose to plead guilty or not guilty, the latter meaning that he disputes the charge and thus claims trial.

If the accused claims trial, a pre-trial conference will be arranged for his case. The accused might then be put on bail, or placed in pre-trial remand till his pre-trial conference.

You may wish to read our other article on whether you should claim trial or plead guilty to a criminal charge here.

The following infographic is a summary of the criminal trial process in Singapore:

criminal trial process
(Click on the image to download it in a new tab.)

Pre-Trial Conference

The purpose of a pre-trial conference is to inform the judge of the progress of the case, allowing him to determine if the case is ready to proceed to trial. Trial dates will be fixed only when all parties are ready for trial. The accused can choose to engage a lawyer to represent him during the pre-trial conference and the subsequent trial. Alternatively, the accused can choose to represent himself for the criminal case.

Procedures at the Pre-Trial Conference

A form of a pre-trial conference is the criminal case disclosure conference, which is mandated by section 159 and 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

It is crucial to note that a criminal case disclosure conference will be arranged for offences that will be tried in a District Court, and are listed in the Second Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code. (List of offences is provided at the end of the article).

The prosecution and accused will attend the conference, which will be presided by a Magistrate or District Judge, and they will settle and confirm the following matters, as stated in Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code:

  1. The filing of the Case for the Prosecution and the Case for the Defence;
  2. Any issues of fact or law which are to be tried by the trial judge at the trial proper;
  3. The list of witnesses to be called by the parties to the trial;
  4. The statements, documents or exhibits which are intended by the parties to the case to be admitted at the trial; and
  5. The trial date. 

The Magistrate or District Judge presiding over the conference cannot conduct the subsequent trial for the accused. Where the accused informs the court that he intends to plead guilty during the conference, the court will fix a date for his plea to be taken.

Where the prosecution fails to serve the Case for the Prosecution, the court may order a discharge not amounting to an acquittal regarding the charge. The Case for the Defence must contain a few crucial contents, as stated in Section 165 of the Criminal Procedure Code:  

  1. A summary of the defence to the charge and the facts in support of the defence;
  2. A list of the names of the witnesses for the defence;
  3. A list of the exhibits that are intended by the defence to be admitted at the trial; and
  4. If objection is made to any issue of fact or law in relation to any matter contained in the Case for the Prosecution —
    1. A statement of the nature of the objection;
    2. The issue of fact on which evidence will be produced; and
    3. The points of law in support of such objection.

After the Case for the Defence has been served on the prosecution, the prosecution must serve the accused copies of these documents within 2 weeks:

  1. All other statements given by the accused and recorded by an officer of a law enforcement agency under any law in relation to the charge or charges which the prosecution intends to proceed with at the trial;
  2. The documentary exhibits they will refer to in court and
  3. Criminal records, if any, of the accused.

Where the defence fails to serve their case to the prosecution, the prosecution need not serve any of the aforementioned documents, and they may still use any of these documents in trial.

If any of the above rules are not adhered to, for example, if the prosecution fails to serve the Case for the Prosecution on the accused, or if the contents of either Case are not complete, or if either the prosecution or defence puts forward a case that is inconsistent with the Cases that they have served and filed, the court can draw a negative inference as it thinks fit.

Where a criminal case disclosure is not held, the court may fix a date for a pre-trial conference to settle any administrative matters. Once the case if ready for trial, a date will be fixed for the hearing.

At Trial

Once the trial commences, the charge will be read and explained to the accused, who will either plead guilty or claim trial. Once the accused claims trial, the court will proceed to hear the case.

The prosecutor will open his case and briefly state the nature of the offence and the evidence he will use to prove the accused’s guilt. The prosecutor will subsequently examine any witnesses he has, and these witnesses can be cross-examined by the accused, after which the prosecutor may re-examine them. Once the prosecutor has concluded, the defence will invite the court to dismiss the case on the ground that there is no case to answer, and the prosecutor may rebut this submission. It is crucial to note that the accused can be represented by a lawyer. Assuming that the accused has chosen a lawyer to represent him, the defence will refer to the accused and the accused’s lawyer.

The court can alter the charge or frame a new one before calling on the defence, and the accused can plead guilty to this different or new charge. If this is carried out, the court has to follow the aforementioned procedures taken in officially charging the accused.

Before the accused calls any evidence in his defence, the court will inform the accused that he will be called upon by the court to give evidence in his own defence. After the court has called upon the accused to give his defence, the accused can either plead guilty or continue to give his defence.

Assuming that the accused has a lawyer to represent him, his lawyer will open his case by stating the facts or law he will rely on, before giving evidence in his own defence. The accused’s witnesses and the evidence must be given in the same order the prosecution did – the accused’s witnesses shall give evidence and will then be cross-examined by the co-accused (if any), followed by the prosecutor, after which the witness may be re-examined by the accused’s lawyer.

If the accused foresees difficulty in getting his witness to attend court, he can apply to the court to compel the witness to attend court for cross-examination, or to produce any exhibit in court. The court must do so unless it considers this application frivolous or vexatious or made to delay justice.

It is crucial to note that the prosecutor or defence may call a witness or produce an exhibit not disclosed in the Case for the prosecution or the Case for the Defence if it has given prior notice in writing to the court and to the other parties at trial of his intention to do so. The notice must state the name of the witness, an outline of his evidence, or provide a brief description of the exhibit.

Close of Trial

After all the witnesses have provided evidence at the trial, the prosecution and Defence will give oral or written submissions. The prosecution will have the final right of reply on the whole case, and they have the right to call a person as a witness or recall and re-examine a person already examined for the purpose of rebuttal. If the Prosecution calls a person as a witness again, the witness may be cross-examined by the accused, and re-examined by the prosecutor again.

After the closing submissions, the Judge will decide whether the prosecution has proved its case against the accused. if the accused is found guilty, the Judge will convict him of the charge and impose the requisite sentence. If the accused is found not guilty, the Judge will acquit the accused and release him.

Acts that require a Criminal Case Disclosure conference

  1. Arms And Explosives Act
  2. Arms Offences Act
  3. Banishment Act
  4. Computer Misuse Act
  5. Corrosive And Explosive Substances And Offensive Weapons Act
  6. Corruption, Drug Trafficking And Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation Of Benefits) Act
  7. Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act
  8. Hijacking Of Aircraft And Protection Of Aircraft And International Airports Act
  9. Immigration Act (Other than sections 6 and 15)
  10. Internal Security Act
  11. Maintenance Of Religious Harmony Act
  12. Misuse Of Drugs Act
  13. Oaths And Declarations Act
  14. Official Secrets Act
  15. Passports Act
  16. Penal Code
  17. Prisons Act
  18. Protected Areas And Protected Places Act
  19. Public Entertainments And Meetings Act
  20. Public Order (Preservation) Act
  21. Securities And Futures Act
  22. Sedition Act
  23. Vandalism Act
Arrest and Investigation
  1. Singapore’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: What Does It Mean?
  2. What is the Appropriate Adult Scheme in Singapore?
  3. Stopped by the Singapore Police For Spot Checks, Etc: What to Do
  4. Tasers, Batons, Shields & Firearms: When Do the Police Use Them?
  5. Seized Assets in Money Laundering Investigations: What Happens To Them?
  6. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  7. What Happens When You Voluntarily Surrender to the Police
  8. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  9. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  10. What to Do If Your Loved One is Under Police Investigation
  11. Your Right to a Lawyer After Being Arrested in Singapore
  12. Police Investigation Process for Crimes in Singapore (4 Steps)
  13. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  14. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  15. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  16. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  17. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  18. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  19. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  20. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  21. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  22. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  23. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  24. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  25. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
  1. What is Private Prosecution?
  2. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  3. Prosecutorial Discretion in Singapore
  4. Composition Offers and Fines for Criminal Offences in Singapore
  5. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All You Need to Know
During Criminal Proceedings
  1. Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
  2. Legal Defences in Criminal Law: Special Exceptions
  3. Giving False vs. Wrong Evidence: What’s the Difference?
  4. Writing Character References For Court: What’s Their Purpose?
  5. When Can I Raise the Defence of Provocation in Singapore?
  6. Can I Use the Defence of Intoxication in Singapore?
  7. TIC: Guide to Charges Taken Into Consideration in Singapore
  8. How to Adjourn or Postpone a Criminal Court Hearing
  9. The "Unusually Convincing" Test in "He Said, She Said" Cases
  10. Death of a Party in a Legal Case in Singapore: What Happens?
  11. What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
  12. Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps
  13. Burden of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases in Singapore
  14. When is a Witness Testimony Unreliable in Singapore?
  15. Legal Defences in Criminal Law: General Exceptions
  16. Making Objections at Trial in the Singapore Courts
  17. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  18. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  19. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  20. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  21. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  22. 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. Fined for an Offence: What to Do If I Can't Afford to Pay Them?
  2. How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  3. Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
  4. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
  5. Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
  6. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
  7. Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
  8. Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
  9. Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
  10. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
  11. 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. Breach of Protection Orders: What Can Victims Do?
  5. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  6. 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. How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
  2. BDSM Gone Wrong: Potential Legal Issues with Sexual Kink Practices
  3. The Offence of Attempted Rape in Singapore: Law & Penalties
  4. Cybersexual Crimes in Singapore and Their Penalties
  5. Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
  6. Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
  7. Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
  8. Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
  9. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  10. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
  11. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  12. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  13. What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
  14. Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
  15. Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
  16. Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
  17. STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore: Can You Refuse it?
  2. Are Sex Toys and Sex Dolls Legal in Singapore?
  3. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  4. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  6. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  7. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  8. Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
  9. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  10. Gambling Legally (at Home, in Public or Online) in Singapore
  11. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
  1. What is a Protected Area and Place in Singapore?
  2. Penalties For Buying Stolen Goods in Singapore
  3. Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
  4. Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  5. Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
  6. Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
  7. Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
  8. Penalties for Littering Offences in Singapore
  1. What is a POFMA Correction Direction and How to Appeal
  2. Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
  3. Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
  4. Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
  5. 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. A Guide to Singapore’s Anti-Money Laundering Laws
  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. Taxidermy of Animals in Singapore: Is It Legal?
  2. Legal and Illegal Pets in Singapore (HDB/Private Property)
  3. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  4. Animal Abuse in Singapore: Offences, Penalties & How to Report Abuse
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
  1. Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
  2. Causing a Public Nuisance in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
  3. Causing Public Alarm in Singapore: Examples & Penalties
  4. Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
  5. Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
  6. Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
  7. Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
  8. 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. Bigamy: Is It Legal to Marry a Married Person in Singapore?
  2. Marriage Offences in Singapore Involving Minors, Same-Sex, Etc.
  3. 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. Penalties for Abetting Minors or Committing Crimes Against Them
  2. Misusing the Singapore Flag and Other National Symbols
  3. What are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore?
  4. Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
  5. Offences Against the Dead and What Family Members Can Do
  6. Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
  7. Laws to Tackle High-Rise Littering in Singapore
  8. Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Singapore
  9. Penalties for Assaulting a Person in Singapore
  10. Is Dining & Dashing Illegal in Singapore?
  11. Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
  12. What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
  13. What Are Ponzi Schemes? Are They Illegal in Singapore?
  14. Modification of Cars, Motorcycles, Etc: Is It Legal in Singapore?
  15. Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
  16. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore