Giving False vs. Wrong Evidence: What’s the Difference?
The case of Karl Liew Kai Lung has shed light on the dire consequences of giving false evidence in court. Karl Liew was sentenced to 2 weeks’ jail for lying to a judge in a case involving theft allegations against his family’s domestic helper, Parti Liyani.
This article will discuss:
Witness’ Duties When Giving Evidence in Court
When giving evidence before a court, a witness has certain duties and responsibilities to ensure that the legal process is fair, accurate, and just. Witnesses are typically required to take an oath or make an affirmation before testifying in court. This solemnly binds them to fulfil their most fundamental duty to the court, which is, to tell the truth.
By taking the oath, witnesses acknowledge the importance of honesty and the potential legal consequences of lying under oath (perjury). Witnesses are therefore legally obliged to provide truthful and accurate information to the best of their knowledge and recollection.
Importance of Giving Accurate and Reliable Evidence
The giving of evidence plays a crucial role in distinguishing between the innocent and the guilty. Accurate and reliable evidence helps to ensure that the guilty are held accountable for their actions, while protecting the innocent from false accusations or wrongful convictions.
For instance, a veteran athletic coach faced 21 months’ imprisonment for allegedly molesting an athlete, but the High Court found “serious doubts” in the testimony of the sole witness in the case and overturned his conviction. The witness’ testimony contained inconsistencies and lacked specific details of the incident in question.
False Evidence vs. Wrong Evidence
False evidence refers to deliberately fabricated or altered evidence that is presented with the intent to deceive the court or influence the outcome of a case. It involves intentionally creating or manipulating evidence to mislead the court or the opposing party. False evidence can take various forms, such as:
- Forged documents
- Manipulated or fabricated photographs
- Fabricated witness statements
- Misleading expert opinions
For example, in response to a charge of littering a cigarette butt in a public place, the accused presented photos of him throwing the cigarette butt into a makeshift container as defence exhibits during trial. He claimed they were taken by CCTV cameras near the location of the incident and on the day of the incident. However, these photos turned out to be false evidence and the accused was sentenced to 6 weeks’ imprisonment. He had fabricated the photos by having another person take those photos of him with a mobile phone after he was caught littering.
In the case of Karl Liew, he testified that some articles of clothing (i.e., a cream polo T-shirt and red blouse) belonged to him, even though he knew that this was false. Ms. Parti’s defence lawyer asked Karl Liew if he remembered when he had purchased the T-shirt and the blouse and when he wore them. Karl Liew replied that he did not. This false testimony was given to intentionally mislead the court.
On the other hand, wrong evidence refers to evidence that is incorrect, inaccurate, or mistaken, but not intentionally fabricated or altered so as to mislead the court. It may arise due to factors such as:
- Faulty memory;
- Misinterpretation; and
- Other unintentional factors.
Situations That Give Rise to Wrong Evidence
Wrong evidence is typically considered a matter of credibility, reliability, or weight rather than a deliberate act of deception. The following are a few ways in which wrong evidence may be given by a witness and how the court may disregard such testimony:
Witness not observing the incident correctly
Quite often in fast-paced situations where things happen in a blink of an eye, witnesses may not be able to observe the incident correctly. For example, an eyewitness in a road traffic accident might have in good faith believed that the traffic light at the time of the accident was green when it was in fact red. Their evidence would be wrong, and the court may disregard the witness’s testimony if there is some doubt as to the accuracy of the evidence or the witness’s credibility.
Witness not able to accurately remember the incident
Trials seldom take place soon after the incident in question. At times, the witness may no longer be able to accurately remember the incident and their testimony in court may not be accurate. For example, in cases where a witness has to confirm the identity of a suspect, recollection of the suspect committing a crime may not be as accurate two years after the original identification. This may raise doubts as to whether the suspect was indeed the person identified at the crime scene.
Witness not able to articulate or communicate clearly in court
In other cases, there may be gaps in communication or matters lost in translation. At times when testimony is translated from another language into English, nuances are lost or mistranslations can occur. The witness, in this case, is giving evidence in good faith but the judge may disregard such testimony if it is unclear, or look towards other sources of evidence such as objective written documents or video footage (if available) for corroboration.
Penalties For Giving False Evidence in Court
When a witness gives false evidence, he or she may be guilty of an offence if the witness knowingly or intentionally gives false evidence. This may amount to a perversion of justice, as illustrated in Karl Liew’s case.
If the conduct in question falls under Chapter 11 of the Penal Code (offences for false evidence and offences against public justice), the offender may face imprisonment if convicted. For example, the punishment for lying or knowingly providing false information, despite being legally bound by oath to state the truth, is imprisonment for up to 7 years and a fine.
This article provides a detailed overview of the penalties for furnishing false information to authorities.
Witnesses play a vital role in helping the court reach a fair and just decision based on accurate information. Their testimony contributes to the search for truth and the administration of justice.
When evidence is given in good faith but is incorrect or inaccurate due to errors, misunderstandings, faulty memory, or other unintentional factors, the courts may be more understanding of this. However, if false evidence is given knowingly with an intent to deceive or mislead the courts, then the law is less tolerant.
Do approach a criminal lawyer if you require guidance on the distinctions above and how best to prepare to give evidence in judicial proceedings if you have been called as a witness.
- Singapore’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: What Does It Mean?
- Your Right to a Lawyer After Being Arrested in Singapore
- What to Do If Your Loved One is Under Police Investigation
- How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
- What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
- What Happens When You Voluntarily Surrender to the Police
- Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
- Seized Assets in Money Laundering Investigations: What Happens To Them?
- Tasers, Batons, Shields & Firearms: When Do the Police Use Them?
- Stopped by the Singapore Police For Spot Checks, Etc: What to Do
- What is the Appropriate Adult Scheme in Singapore?
- Police Investigation Process for Crimes in Singapore (4 Steps)
- 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
- Making Objections at Trial in the Singapore Courts
- When is a Witness Testimony Unreliable in Singapore?
- Burden of Proof in Criminal and Civil Cases in Singapore
- Falsely Accused of a Crime in Singapore: Your Next Steps
- What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
- Using the Defence of Diminished Responsibility in Singapore
- Death of a Party in a Legal Case in Singapore: What Happens?
- The "Unusually Convincing" Test in "He Said, She Said" Cases
- How to Adjourn or Postpone a Criminal Court Hearing
- TIC: Guide to Charges Taken Into Consideration in Singapore
- Can I Use the Defence of Intoxication in Singapore?
- When Can I Raise the Defence of Provocation in Singapore?
- Writing Character References For Court: What’s Their Purpose?
- Giving False vs. Wrong Evidence: What’s the Difference?
- 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
- Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend 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
- Fined for an Offence: What to Do If I Can't Afford to Pay Them?
- How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
- 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
- Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
- Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
- Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
- Breach of Protection Orders: What Can Victims Do?
- Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
- Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
- Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
- Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
- How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
- Cybersexual Crimes in Singapore and Their Penalties
- 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?
- Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore: Can You Refuse it?
- Are Sex Toys and Sex Dolls Legal 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 Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (at Home, in Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- What is a Protected Area and Place in Singapore?
- Penalties For Buying Stolen Goods in Singapore
- 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 Offences in Singapore
- What is a POFMA Correction Direction and How to Appeal
- Penalties for Cheating/Scamming and What Victims Can Do
- Penalties for Impersonating Someone and Victim Redress
- Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
- Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
- Tax Evasion in Singapore: Penalties and Examples
- Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) in Singapore: What is It?
- All You Need to Know About Corruption in Singapore
- Anti-Money Laundering Laws and You
- 5 Things You Need to Know about Insider Trading
- Dishonest Assistance and Knowing Receipt: The Case of David Rasif
- 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?
- Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
- Causing a Public Nuisance in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Causing Public Alarm in Singapore: Examples & Penalties
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
- Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
- Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
- Penalties for Abetting Minors or Committing Crimes Against Them
- Misusing the Singapore Flag and Other National Symbols
- What are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore?
- Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
- Offences Against the Dead and What Family Members Can Do
- Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
- Laws to Tackle High-Rise Littering in Singapore
- Penalties for Attempting to Commit a Crime in Singapore
- Penalties for Assaulting a Person in Singapore
- Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
- What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
- What Are Ponzi Schemes? Are They Illegal in Singapore?
- Modification of Cars, Motorcycles, Etc: Is It Legal in Singapore?
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore