Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender’s Obligations
What is a Day Reporting Order (DRO)?
A Day Reporting Order (DRO) is a type of community-based sentence available for certain potentially less serious offences in Singapore, such as theft, traffic offences, and mischief. It is an alternative sentence to a fine, caning and/or jail term.
This article will also cover:
- What Is the Purpose of a Day Reporting Order (DRO)?
- Who Is/Is Not Eligible for a Day Reporting Order?
- How Does the Court Decide Whether to Grant a Day Reporting Order?
- What Happens if a Day Reporting Order Is Granted?
- What Can Happen if You Fail to Comply With the Terms of the Day Reporting Order?
- If You Have Been Sentenced to a Day Reporting Order, Will You Have a Criminal Record?
What Is the Purpose of a Day Reporting Order?
DROs are aimed at rehabilitating low-risk, first-time offenders. Offenders sentenced to a DRO will therefore undergo a tailored rehabilitation plan. As part of this plan, they will work with a correctional rehabilitation specialist from the Singapore Prison Service who will provide counselling and help the offender with employment matters.
Offenders will also be required to report to a day reporting officer at a day reporting centre on a regular basis (e.g. once a week). As long as they abide by the DRO and do not commit further offences, offenders are free to carry on with their lives for the remaining duration of the DRO. However, they may still have to comply with additional restrictions, such as being electronically monitored or having to abide by a curfew.
Can a Day Reporting Order be made in addition to another sentence?
When a DRO is passed, it will be in lieu of any jail term, caning, or fine which the court may impose for the offence committed.
Courts may also choose to impose a suspended jail term for the offence in order to further deter the offender from breaching the DRO. The suspended jail term will not take effect unless the offender breaches the DRO. In other words, if the offender successfully completes his DRO, he will not be sent to jail for the offence.
DROs can be passed in combination with other community-based sentences. For example, Yin Zi Qin was sentenced to 3 community-based sentences for an offence of voluntarily causing hurt. These community-based sentences are namely:
- A DRO for a period of 5 months;
- A Community Service Order of 80 hours; and
- A Short Detention Order of 12 days.
It should also be noted that if the offender breaches the DRO, the court has the power to vary or revoke the orders made, and to resentence the offender for his initial offence (e.g. to a fine, caning and/or jail term).
Who Is/Is Not Eligible for a Day Reporting Order?
An offender is generally eligible for a DRO if:
- The statutory restrictions listed under section 337(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) do not apply to him or his offence (see below);
- He is 16 years of age or above; and
- The court is satisfied that having regard to the circumstances, including the nature of the offence and the offender’s character, it is expedient to grant a DRO.
Examples of restrictions under section 337(1) of the CPC include cases where:
- The sentence for the offence committed is fixed by law (i.e. the sentence is fixed in duration or amount payable, and in type)
- There is a mandatory minimum sentence of fine, caning or jail term (i.e. there is a minimum duration or amount payable prescribed for the sentence, and it is compulsory for the court to impose it)
- There is a specified minimum sentence of caning or jail term (i.e. it is not compulsory for the court to impose such a sentence on you but if it does, then there is a minimum duration of sentence that it has to impose)
- The offence is punishable with a jail term which exceeds 3 years
- The offence is punishable by a fine only
- The offender has previously been sentenced to jail for more than 3 months
- The offender was previously sentenced to reformative training, corrective training, or preventive detention
How Does the Court Decide Whether to Grant a Day Reporting Order?
As mentioned above, the court will grant a DRO only if it is satisfied that it is appropriate to do so when considering the circumstances, including the nature of the offence and the offender’s character. To this end, the court will generally consider:
- Whether the offence is so serious such that a harsher sentence would be more appropriate.
- Whether there is a high chance of the offender reoffending, such that harsher punishment is required to deter him from doing so.
- Whether a harsher punishment is required to deter others from committing the same offence.
When deciding whether to grant a DRO, the court must call for a report from a day reporting officer on the effectiveness of counselling and rehabilitation on the offender. The court will also consider recommendations made by the corrections specialist. However, it still has the discretion to grant a DRO even if the report states that providing counselling and rehabilitation under the DRO may not be effective.
For example, in one case, Abdul Qayyum bin Abdul Razak joined a group of friends to attack a victim. As a result, the victim sustained a cut below his eye. The offender pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful assembly. In sentencing the offender to the DRO, the court considered that:
- The corrections specialist had assessed the offender and found him suitable for a DRO
- The offender had remained crime-free since the commission of the offence 21 months earlier
- In those 21 months, the offender also kept regular employment and endeavoured to improve his employment status
- He had a young, largely intact family with a supportive wife, which gave him the strongest possible reason to want to reform himself
- He had secured a rental flat to provide a stable home for his family, which helped indicate that he was capable of reform
Do note that the court may consider relevant factors other than the 5 listed here, depending on the facts of the case. It is also not necessary for any one above factor to be present for a DRO to be granted.
What Happens if a Day Reporting Order Is Granted?
If the court decides to grant a DRO, the court will explain to the offender in ordinary language:
- The purpose and effect of the DRO (including the offender’s obligations under it, as explained below);
- The consequences of breaching the DRO; and
- That the court has the power to vary or revoke the order upon the application of the day reporting officer.
Obligations of the offender
DROs can range from 3 to 12 months in length.
The specific obligations of the offender will be laid out in the DRO itself. Generally, the offender must:
- Report to the day reporting officer as required
- Undergo counselling and rehabilitation programmes as required
- Notify the day reporting officer of any change in his address or employment status
- Give the day reporting officer any information relating to his daily routines or whereabouts upon request
- Not assault, threaten, insult, or use abusive language to the day reporting officer
The court may also impose further conditions as it sees fit.
For example, a DRO may require the offender’s whereabouts to be electronically monitored during the period of the order. Additionally, the court may require the offender to furnish security (usually a suitable sum of money) to ensure that the offender complies with the order.
What Can Happen if You Fail to Comply With the Terms of the Day Reporting Order?
If, without reasonable excuse, you fail to comply with any of the obligations under the DRO, the court may do any of the following:
- Issue a summons directing you to appear in court, or issue a warrant for your arrest
- Issue you a warning, vary the DRO, or impose on you a fine of up to $1,000
- Make an order for you to be detained in prison for up to 14 days
- Forfeit the security furnished (if you previously furnished security)
- Revoke the DRO and impose any sentence which is provided for the offence you committed
If you commit another offence while on a DRO, the court may revoke the DRO and impose any sentence that has been prescribed for the offence.
You should also note that if the court had imposed a suspended jail term together with the DRO and you breach the DRO or commit a further offence, the court will revoke the community order, and the suspended jail term will take effect (as mentioned above).
If You Have Been Sentenced to a Day Reporting Order, Will You Have a Criminal Record?
If you successfully complete the DRO, your criminal record for that offence will be considered spent. This means that you will be deemed to not have such a record, and in most situations, you can lawfully say that you have no criminal record.
However, you must still answer “yes” if you are asked if you have ever been convicted in a court of law.
Ultimately, you should note that this article cannot tell you precisely when an offender will get a DRO. Even if an offender is eligible for a DRO, the issues of whether a DRO will be granted, what combination of community-based sentences are passed, as well as the exact terms and length of the orders, are all at the discretion of the court. Much depends on the exact facts of the case.
If you have been charged with an offence in Singapore and are seeking a DRO, do consider getting in touch with our criminal lawyers for assistance. A good criminal lawyer can advise you on your eligibility for a DRO, and help you get the best possible outcome for your case.
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