The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide in Singapore
Sections 299 and 300 of the Penal Code govern the offences of culpable homicide and murder respectively.
Section 300 states that you commit murder, if you:
- Cause the death with the intention of causing the death.
- Cause the death with the intention of causing bodily injury that you know is likely to kill the person
- Cause the death with the intention of causing bodily injury, and that bodily injury is objectively determined to be sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death.
- Cause the death knowing that what you are doing is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death.
If any of the above limbs are fulfilled, then murder has been committed, except where one of these special defences also apply:
- When there was provocation
- When offender had the right of private defence, but exceeded it
- When offender was exceeding the power of a public servant in good faith
- When the act was committed as a result of a sudden fight
- When the victim is above 18 and had consented to being killed
- When it is a case of a mother killing a child of less than 12 months old
- When there is a case for diminished responsibility (because of the accused’s mental faculties were substantially impaired)
If the situation falls into one of the categories mentioned above, the offender would not be guilty of murder but would be guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead.
While the death penalty used to be mandatory for accused persons found guilty of murder, the death penalty is now discretionary except for the first limb of section 300 of the Penal Code with effect from 1 January 2013.
In other words, as long as you had not caused the death of the victim with the exact intention of doing so (as is usually the case for murders in cold blood), and are found guilty for murder on a different limb (e.g. intending to cause a bodily injury which was sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death), the court can either still sentence you to death, or choose to sentence you to life imprisonment and caning instead.
On the other hand, if you are not found guilty of murder, you may be found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder instead. The culpable homicide provisions are worded very similarly to those governing murder, seeing how murder is a subset of culpable homicide.
If found guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the punishment differs depending on the mental state of the accused at the time of the killing (e.g. whether you had intended to cause death, or whether you had carried out the act of killing with the knowledge that such act is likely to cause death, though not actually intending for death to happen). See section 304 of the Penal Code for more information.
As a side note, it has to be noted that unlike the law in United States, Singapore does not classify murder in terms of degrees (e.g. first or second degree murder). It also does not have the offence of manslaughter, either voluntary or involuntary.
These classifications in the United States are somewhat similar to how the Singapore Penal Code contains four limbs of murder within the same provision, where these provide for the states of mind which the accused could possibly have been under while committing the act of killing.
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Can a Civilian Arrest a Criminal in Singapore?
- Is lying to the police or authorities a punishable offence in Singapore?
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Do You Have a "Right to Remain Silent" to the Police in Singapore?
- The Extradition Act: What If You Commit a Crime and Flee Singapore?
- Warrant of Arrest: What to Do If It is Issued Against You in Singapore
- Criminal Compensation in Singapore
- What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Mitigation Plea
- Pleading Guilty
- Criminal Appeals in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Probation in Singapore: Are You Eligible? Will You Have a Criminal Record?
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When will it be Ordered?
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison (And on Death Row) in Singapore
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore and When Will They be Ordered?
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- When is Gambling Illegal in Singapore?
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- Legal Drinking Age in Singapore and Other Drinking-Related Laws
- Smoking in Singapore: Legal Age and Penalties for Illegal Smoking
- The Difference Between Murder and Culpable Homicide in Singapore
- Is it illegal to commit suicide in Singapore? Will I be punished if my attempt at suicide fails?
- Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
- What are Sham Marriages and are They Illegal in Singapore?
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
- What is the Offence of Rioting?
- Penalties for Voluntarily Causing Hurt in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Complete Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- Committing Theft in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
- Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
- Littering and Killer Litter Offences: Here are the Penalties in Singapore
- Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore