Compounding or composition of offences in Singapore

Last updated on August 21, 2014

Under the laws of Singapore, the compounding of an offence (also known as “a composition”) refers to the settlement of a charge (without entering a conviction) between the alleged victim and the accused. Usually, the accused makes monetary compensation and offers an apology to the alleged victim. When an offence has been compounded, the accused is effectively acquitted of his crime.

When is an offence compoundable?

The Fourth Schedule to the Criminal Procedure Code(“CPC”) provides a list of offences that may be compounded, and the person who may compound the offence.

Part I of the Schedule prescribes the Penal Code offences that may be compounded. Part II of the Schedule prescribes the compoundable offences under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.

Additionally, other written laws may also prescribe particular compoundable offences. For instance, the Enlistment (Composition of Offences) Regulations prescribe the compoundable offences and the conditions of compounding, for the offences committed under the Enlistment Act – Singapore’s military conscription law. Minor traffic offences are also typically compoundable.

Who may compound an offence?

Usually, only the alleged victim may compound an offence. However, as to the compoundable offences listed in the Fourth Schedule, where police investigations have commenced, or where the accused has been charged in court for that offence, they may only be compounded with the consent of the Public Prosecutor. This is provided for in section 241 of the CPC.

Separately, section 242 of the CPC confers the Public Prosecutor with the power to compound offences by collecting from the accused a sum of money which shall not exceed one half of the amount of the maximum fine that is prescribed for the offence; or $5,000, whichever is the lower.

As to other victimless crimes, like an offence under the Enlistment Act, these offences are usually compoundable by the relevant authorities.

How is the compounding of an offence initiated?

Compounding is usually initiated by the accused and his lawyer.

What forms may the compounding of an offence take?

A composition is not invariably in the form of financial compensation. It could also be (a) a sincere apology to the alleged victim, (b) an undertaking not to repeat the offending behaviour, or (c) even the accused performing a charitable deed – such as making a donation to charity.

Is an attempt or abetment of a compoundable offence compoundable too?

As provided for in section 241(2) of the CPC, when any offence is compoundable, the abetment of the offence, or an attempt to commit the offence when the attempt is itself an offence, may be compounded in the same way.

What if the person who may offer to compound the offence is not legally competent to offer composition?

As provided for in section 241(1) of the CPC, when the person who would otherwise be competent to compound an offence is a minor, an idiot or a lunatic, any person competent to contract on his behalf may compound the offence on his or her behalf.

Arrest and Investigation
  1. Police Investigation Process in Singapore
  2. When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  3. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  4. Can a civilian arrest a criminal in Singapore?
  5. Is lying to the police or authorities a punishable offence in Singapore?
  6. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  7. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  8. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
  1. Magistrate’s Complaints, Private Summons and Private Prosecutions in Singapore
  2. Prosecutorial discretion in Singapore
  3. What is Private Prosecution?
  4. Compounding or composition of offences in Singapore
  5. Criminal Records in Singapore
  6. Plea Bargaining in Singapore: All you need to know
Criminal Proceedings
  1. Criminal Compensation in Singapore
  2. What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?
  3. Claiming trial as an accused
  4. Mitigation Plea
  5. Pleading Guilty
  6. Criminal Appeals in Singapore
  7. Presidential Clemency in Singapore
  8. Probation in Singapore: Are You Eligible? Will You Have a Criminal Record?
  9. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  10. Reformative Training in Singapore: When will it be Ordered?
  11. Visiting a Loved One in Prison (And on Death Row) in Singapore
Sexual Offences
  1. What is the Legal Age For Sex in Singapore? What are Some Common Sexual Offences in Singapore?
  2. Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
  3. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
  4. What is the law on sexting in Singapore?
Vice-Related Offences
  1. Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
  2. What is the law on pornography in Singapore?
  3. What are Singapore’s laws on drug consumption?
  4. When is Gambling Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  6. DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
  7. What is the Legal Drinking Age in Singapore? And Other Drinking-Related Laws
  1. Is It Illegal to Threaten to Beat Someone Up on Facebook?
  2. Is it illegal to cheat someone of an in-game item in MMORPGs?
  3. What to do if someone impersonates me online
White-Collar Crimes
  1. Criminal breach of trust in Singapore
  2. Dishonest assistance and knowing receipt - The case of David Rasif
  3. Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
  4. All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
  5. 5 things you need to know about insider trading
Other Criminal Offences
  1. The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide in Singapore
  2. Is it illegal to commit suicide in Singapore? Will I be punished if my attempt at suicide fails?
  3. Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
  4. What are Sham Marriages and are They Illegal in Singapore?
  5. Public assemblies and processions in Singapore – police permits and the Public Order Act
  6. What is the offence of Rioting?
  7. Voluntarily Causing Hurt in Singapore
  8. Misbehaving in public: 5 things you need to know
  9. Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
  10. Guide to E-Scooter/Personal Mobility Device (PMD) Laws in Singapore
  11. Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Penalties and Being Recruited
  12. What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
  13. Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
Certificate of Clearance
  1. How Do You Apply for a Certificate of Clearance?