Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps

Last updated on February 25, 2022

man being investigated

It is not as unusual as many people think to be falsely accused of a crime in Singapore.

In some cases, someone may be charged with multiple charges, some of which are true and some of which are false. In other cases, someone may be charged with an offence for their involvement in an incident, but their actions do not constitute the elements of the offence with which they have been charged.

Sometimes, someone is charged with an offence based on circumstantial evidence that points to them, or based on a false allegation made by a complainant with a grudge. It is even possible for someone to be falsely charged with an offence due to a case of mistaken identity. So if you find yourself being falsely accused of a crime in Singapore, what should you do? This article will cover:

What to Do If You’ve Been Falsely Charged with a Crime

Deny any untrue allegations and reserve your rights

When you are charged, you will be interrogated. You will be asked to sign a statement that has been prepared by a police officer based on the answers you have given under interrogation. You may also be asked to write out a short statement. If you are innocent, you should consistently deny any untrue allegations, and briefly state any fact that supports your innocence, during the interrogation.

When you are presented with the statement to sign, you should ensure that it says exactly what you want it to say before you sign it.

Anything in there can and will be used against you later, and you can insist that the police officer goes back and types it up again and again until it says exactly what you want to be said in court later. The police officer may not refuse.

Typing out your statement properly is his/her job. However, ensuring that he/she has done so accurately is your responsibility. Any errors cannot be corrected later and your signature at the end of the statement will be used to prove that you accepted the accuracy of everything in the statement. Hence, do not sign the statement until you are 100% satisfied that its contents do not support any of the allegations against you, and that everything in there is 100% accurate.

You may also be asked to handwrite a shorter statement yourself on a page that sets out your charge and cautions you on the consequences of writing a statement below. During this process, the police officer may suggest to you that you should write that you are very sorry and will not re-offend, and to ask the judge for leniency. Do not do this if you are innocent as it could amount to admitting that you are guilty of the offence.

Instead, you should simply deny committing the offence with which you are charged and reserve your rights until you have obtained legal advice. This is the most critical stage of your prosecution where you can do the most damage to your own defence by over-explaining or guessing facts that you cannot really remember. If you contradict yourself in your statement, this will make it much more difficult for a lawyer to help exonerate you later on.

Engage a criminal lawyer

The first thing you should do when you get out of the police station is to immediately write down or dictate:

  • Everything that you can remember putting into both statements
  • The names and ranks of the police officers who dealt with you

Bring this information to a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Having a lawyer help you to navigate the criminal procedure that follows will reduce your stress over the coming months. It also gives your case far more credibility in court than if you were to try to represent yourself from the dock, where you may not be taken seriously and may also be spoken to harshly by the judge.

Some police officers may suggest to you that engaging a criminal lawyer is unhelpful or indicates guilt. This is not true. You should always engage a criminal lawyer if you have been charged with an offence in Singapore.

Gather evidence and work with your lawyer to prove your innocence

You should try to gather any evidence that you can to prove your innocence. For example:

  • Review your calendar, your phone calls and text messages from the relevant day
  • Try to remember the people you met and spoke with that day
  • Review your Google location history

Try to provide your lawyer with a list of people who may be able to support various aspects of your version of events, or who can contradict the allegations against you. This will help your lawyer arrange for statements to be taken from these individuals.

Always check with your lawyer before approaching these people yourself. Never approach or communicate with the complainant (your accuser) in your case, if any. In addition, do not publish anything online about your case, or the complainant, without running it past your lawyer first to understand how it may impact your defence.

Dealing With Related Consequences of Being Accused of an Offence

One of the most distressing aspects of being charged with an offence is that you may be fired from your job. Some of your friends, colleagues and acquaintances may also no longer wish to be associated with you. There is not much you can do about this other than to assure your loved ones, employer and friends that you are innocent, have engaged a lawyer and will be contesting the charges against you in court.

If you are a foreigner, you can expect to be most likely deported at the conclusion of your case, even if you are acquitted of all charges. Singapore’s immigration system is separate from its criminal justice system and does not incorporate formal appeal processes. The Immigration and Customs Authority often deports foreigners whose continued presence it deems, in its ultimate discretion, to be “undesirable”, and this often includes anyone who has been charged with an offence, whether or not they are actually found guilty.

Hence, you should plan accordingly. You should also do everything that you can to secure a Singaporean citizen or Permanent Resident bailor to post bail for you. This is so that you are not held in remand while waiting for trial. Your lawyer can advise you on this process.

Should I Plead Guilty Even If I am Innocent?

There are some cases in which you should consider pleading guilty even when you are innocent. This is a decision for you alone to make with the advice of your lawyer. However, if there is an offer on the table of a very lenient sentence in return for a guilty plea, in a case where you could otherwise be facing a very harsh sentence, this is something to which you should give serious thought.

Trials are very unpredictable and you should not assume that merely because you are innocent, you will be acquitted. Innocent people are sometimes convicted on little more than the bare allegation of a complainant.

For example, in the absence of any external evidence or independent eye-witness testimony, it is not unusual for convictions to be secured based solely on the testimony of the complainant, as well as the testimony of the arresting officer and investigating officer who were not present at the time of the alleged incident. You need to prepare yourself for that possibility and for the consequences of losing at trial.

When deciding whether to plead guilty, you also need to understand and consider the long-term consequences of having a criminal record, even if the sentence is a relatively lenient one. This requires a serious in-depth discussion with your lawyer so that you can understand the potential risks and benefits of each course of action.

What Can I Do If the Complainant is Proven to Have Made False Allegations Against Me?

If the complainant is shown to have made false allegations against you, in theory he/she can be charged with making a false statement to a public servant and/or making a false declaration under oath. In practice, however, such false statements are not frequently prosecuted. That said, you can certainly file a police report against the complainant and indicate a desire for the offence to be prosecuted.

If the government declines to prosecute, you also have the option of pursuing a prosecution of the complainant yourself by commencing a Magistrate’s Complaint. Your lawyer can advise you on the procedure for doing so.

In addition to this or in the alternative, you can also sue the complainant to obtain damages. The most common options in this scenario would be a defamation claim under the Defamation Act or a harassment claim under the Protection from Harassment Act.

There are few other life events that can so thoroughly disrupt your life, and cause such deep and prolonged distress, as being falsely accused of a crime. The one thing that can most help to diminish that distress to some degree is engaging a criminal lawyer in Singapore to advise and represent you. You cannot put a price on the peace of mind and practical assistance that high-quality legal representation can provide at such a difficult time in your life.

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  2. What to Do If Your Loved One is Under Police Investigation
  3. How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
  4. What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
  5. What Happens When You Voluntarily Surrender to the Police
  6. Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
  7. Police Investigation Process for Crimes in Singapore (4 Steps)
  8. Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
  9. Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
  10. Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
  11. What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
  12. Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
  13. What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
  14. "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
  15. Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
  16. Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
  17. Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
  18. Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
  19. Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
  20. Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
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  1. The Essential Guide to Bail and Personal Bonds in Singapore
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  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
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  1. Making Objections at Trial in the Singapore Courts
  2. When is a Witness Testimony Unreliable in Singapore?
  3. Burden of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases in Singapore
  4. Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps
  5. What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
  6. Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
  7. Death of a Party in a Legal Case in Singapore: What Happens?
  8. The "Unusually Convincing" Test in "He Said, She Said" Cases
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  10. TIC: Guide to Charges Taken Into Consideration in Singapore
  11. Can I Use the Defence of Intoxication in Singapore?
  12. When Can I Raise the Defence of Provocation in Singapore?
  13. Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
  14. Claiming Trial as an Accused
  15. Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
  16. The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
  17. Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
  18. Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
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  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
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  3. Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
  4. Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
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  6. How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
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  10. 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
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  2. Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
  3. Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
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  5. Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
  6. Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
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  2. Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore (and Penalties)
  3. Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I Be Punished for Trying?
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  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?
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  7. Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
  8. Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
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  10. What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
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  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
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  2. Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
  3. Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
  4. Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
  5. Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
  6. Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
  7. Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
  8. Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
  9. Gambling Legally (at Home, in Public or Online) in Singapore
  10. The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
Property Offences
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  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
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  5. Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
White-Collar Crimes
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  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
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  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?
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  3. Is It Illegal to Feed Stray Animals in Singapore?
  4. Singapore Animal Abuse Offences, Penalties & How to Report
Offences Relating to Public Peace and Good Order
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  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
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  8. Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
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  3. Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
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Certificate of Clearance
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  2. Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
  3. Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
  4. Offences Against the Dead and What Family Members Can Do
  5. Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
  6. Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Singapore
  7. Penalties for Assaulting a Person in Singapore
  8. Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
  9. What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
  10. What Are Ponzi Schemes? Are They Illegal in Singapore?
  11. Modification of Cars, Motorcycles, Etc: Is It Legal in Singapore?
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  13. Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore