Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
In Singapore, it is not uncommon to read about incidents of trespass to property or land. Read on to find out more about criminal trespass in Singapore and the potential consequences if you commit criminal trespass.
This article will discuss the following questions:
- What is the offence of criminal trespass in Singapore?
- What are the Trespass-related criminal offences and their penalties?
- Are there any defences that I can raise if I’m accused of committing trespass?
- Can I be sued for trespassing on someone’s property/land?
- Is criminal trespass an arrestable offence?
- Will people convicted of criminal trespass have a criminal record?
Criminal trespass is defined in section 441 of the Penal Code. You will have committed criminal trespass if you:
- Enter another person’s property with the intention to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy that other person; or
- Unlawfully remain at another person’s property (despite having lawfully entered the property) with the intention to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy that other person.
For example, if you were originally a tenant of a property but refuse to leave after your lease is up with the intention of annoying your landlord, you may have committed criminal trespass.
Under section 447 of the Penal Code, if you are found guilty of committing criminal trespass, you will be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 months, or with a fine of up to $1,500, or both.
What are the Trespass-Related Criminal Offences in Singapore and Their Penalties?
Below are a few examples of trespass-related criminal offences:
Under section 442 of the Penal Code, you will have committed house-breaking if you commit criminal trespass (as defined above) by entering into or remaining in:
- A building, tent, container or vessel in which people live; or
- A building used as a place for worship or for the custody of property
As long as any part of your body enters into the property in question, that is sufficient to constitute house-breaking. For example, if you reach your hand into a window of a house in order to steal someone’s phone, you will be liable for house-breaking, even if the rest of your body never entered the house.
Under section 448 of the Penal Code, if you are found guilty of committing house-breaking, you will be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years, a fine, or both.
Trespass on burial places
Under section 297 of the Penal Code, you will have committed trespass on burial places if you commit trespass in:
- A place of worship;
- A place of burial (e.g. a cemetery); or
- A place set apart for the performance of funeral rites or as a depository for the remains of the dead,
- The intention of wounding the feelings of any person, or of insulting the religion of any person; or
- The knowledge that the feelings of any person are likely to be wounded, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted by your doing so.
If you are found guilty of committing trespass on burial places, you will be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years, a fine, or both.
Wilful trespass on property
Under section 21(1) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act (MOA), you will have committed wilful trespass on property if you wilfully trespass, without causing actual damage or more than nominal damage, on:
- Any government-owned property or public property;
- Any residential property or land attached to the property; or
- Any boat or vessel.
While the differences between actual and nominal damage are unclear, it appears that this offence would only cover more trivial instances of trespass, while the Penal Code would cover more serious instances of trespass.
Are There Any Defences that I Can Raise If I’m Accused of Committing Trespass?
If you enter into or stay in another person’s property without permission, you may still be able to raise a defence that you did not have the intention to commit a criminal trespass offence under the Penal Code or to intimidate, insult or annoy.
For example, you may have only been walking through the property as a shortcut to get somewhere else and had no other reason for doing so. Note however that if this is the case, you might still be liable under section 21 of the MOA as mentioned above, or to be sued by the owner of the property (see below).
You may also have recourse to the general exceptions (defences) to criminal offences such as intoxication and insanity. In other words, you may have been so intoxicated or are suffering from a serious mental illness that any intention to intimidate, insult or annoy which you may have had when trespassing was excusable at law.
What does not constitute a defence to criminal trespass?
The fact that the intention to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy the other person was not the only or dominant motive for entering the premises is not an adequate defence.
Using the previous example, you may have entered into the premises as a shortcut to go somewhere for an urgent appointment, but decided on the way to steal the owner’s things. Even if stealing the owner’s things was only your secondary objective, you would still have committed the offence of criminal trespass (or possibly even the offence of house-breaking).
Can I be Sued for Trespassing on Someone’s Property/Land?
As mentioned above, even if you did not have the intention to commit an offence or to intimidate, insult or annoy, you could still be sued for trespass to land by the owner of that property.
Is Criminal Trespass an Arrestable Offence?
Criminal trespass is an arrestable offence. An arrestable offence is one where the police can arrest a suspect without a warrant.
For example, if you were found at another person’s property without the owner’s permission and the police reasonably suspect that you were there to intimidate the owner, you could be arrested without a warrant.
Once the suspect has been arrested, the offender can choose to be released on bail and/or personal bond.
Will People Convicted of Criminal Trespass have a Criminal Record?
Yes, if you are convicted of criminal trespass, 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 means that you are deemed to not have such a record, and in most situations, you can lawfully say that you have no criminal record. 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.
If you have been charged with criminal trespass, you may want to discuss your options with a criminal lawyer, who will be able to better advise you on how to proceed with your case, such as whether to plead guilty or to proceed with trial, as well as the defences you may be able to raise.
- How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
- What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
- Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
- Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
- What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
- Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
- Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Criminal Records in Singapore
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
- Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
- How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
- Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
- What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
- What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
- Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
- Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
- Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
- STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
- Laws on Procuring Prostitutes and Sexual Services in Singapore
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
- Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
- Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
- Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
- Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
- Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
- Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore