Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
What is a Warrant of Arrest?
A Warrant of Arrest (also known as an arrest warrant) is a court order issued to the police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest an alleged offender and bring him before the courts, or to require the alleged offender to surrender himself. This is known as “executing” the warrant.
Law enforcement agencies include any authority or person who has a duty to investigate and charge offenders. Such agencies include the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority, Singapore Customs and Internal Security Department, and Central Narcotics Bureau.
When Might a Warrant of Arrest be Issued Against Me?
There are two main reasons as to why a Warrant of Arrest may be issued against you:
1. You have committed an offence that is “non-arrestable”
As opposed to an arrestable offence (e.g. voluntarily causing grievous hurt) which allows the police to arrest one without a Warrant of Arrest, a non-arrestable offence requires the police to obtain a Warrant of Arrest from the courts before arresting the alleged offender in Singapore.
Examples of non-arrestable offences include voluntarily causing hurt, and defamation.
2. You have failed to pay your state court fines and/or failed to attend court
A state court fine may be imposed if, for example, you have committed a minor traffic offence with an offer of composition (i.e. payment of a sum of money), but failed to pay the fine by the expiration of the offer.
If you fail to pay the state court fine by the due date, a summons to attend court will first be issued against you. At this point, you can still pay the fine by the time stated in the summons. However, should you then fail to pay the state court fine and fail to attend court, a Warrant of Arrest may be issued against you.
You may also be required to attend court, if for example, you have committed a traffic offence without an offer of composition. Again, failure to attend court may result in a Warrant of Arrest being issued against you.
Do note that if a Warrant of Arrest is issued against you for failure to attend court, whether you can post bail would depend on the conditions of the Warrant of Arrest as imposed by the courts.
If a bail is offered as a condition of the Warrant of Arrest, the bailor can put up the bail amount for your release to attend court on a specified date. If no bail is offered as a condition of the Warrant, or if you cannot find a bailor, you will be brought to court within 48 hours of your arrest.
What Should I Do If a Warrant of Arrest is Issued Against Me?
If you have been issued a Warrant of Arrest, you would be given a letter of advice containing instructions on what you should do next. Alternatively, by logging into the Outstanding Warrant Enquiry System (OWAES), you can also see the next steps you should take.
Generally, for Warrants of Arrest issued against you because of non-payment of fines or failure to attend court, your next course of action will be to surrender yourself to the relevant law enforcement agencies or the Warrant Enforcement Unit at the Police Cantonment Complex.
If you are still unclear as to what you should do when a Warrant of Arrest is issued against you, or if you have any questions about the Warrant of Arrest issued against you, you should seek clarification from the law enforcement agency immediately.
What happens if I don’t respond to the Warrant of Arrest?
You should note that when a Warrant of Arrest is issued against you, the police may arrest you without unnecessary delay and bring you to the court which you need to be at. Thus, if you do not comply with the instructions of the Warrant of Arrest, you may be arrested immediately.
Furthermore, when you have an outstanding Warrant of Arrest issued against you for a failure to pay your fine for a parking offence, you will not be able to renew your road tax, driving licence or HDB season parking ticket.
Thus, it is important to follow the instructions of the Warrant of Arrest to prevent these consequences.
What happens if I’m overseas when the Warrant of Arrest is issued against me?
If you are overseas, a Warrant of Arrest may be issued for execution in that overseas country for your arrest so you can be brought back to Singapore. This may happen if you are being charged with an extraditable offence.
In a June 2019 case for example, the State Courts issued a Warrant of Arrest to be executed in Malaysia against a lawyer who fled Singapore after allegedly misappropriating $33 million of client funds, and failed to surrender himself.
Alternatively, if the court has reason to believe that you are in hiding or have absconded overseas even though a Warrant of Arrest has been issued against you in Singapore, it may publish a proclamation requiring you to appear at a specific time and place. This proclamation must be published, such as in a daily newspaper or delivered to your last known address.
Upon the publishing of this proclamation, the court may order that your property be attached. When a property is being attached, the court can among other things, seize your property or prevent rent to be paid to you. If you fail to heed the proclamation, the attached property may be disposed of.
Can I Cancel a Warrant of Arrest and How?
You may apply to cancel the Warrant of Arrest only if:
- The Warrant Execution Unit or the relevant prosecuting agencies have not executed the Warrant of Arrest against you; and
- You have a valid reason for being absent from court (if you failed to turn up in court).
Different procedures for cancelling a Warrant of Arrest apply depending on whether the Warrant of Arrest has been issued in respect of a criminal offence or a non-criminal offence.
Cancelling a Warrant of Arrest issued for alleged criminal offences
If a Warrant of Arrest has been issued against you due to alleged criminal offences you may have committed, you may contact the Warrant Enforcement Unit to apply to cancel the warrant.
Cancelling a Warrant of Arrest issued for alleged non-criminal offences
For non-criminal offences such as failure to attend court, you can apply to the respective court that you were supposed to attend to have the warrant cancelled e.g. an application to the Night Courts, District Court or Magistrate Court.
You may have been required to appear before the Night Courts if the offence you have committed is prosecuted by government agencies such as the HDB, URA and CPF, or if you committed a road traffic offence.
If you failed to appear before the Night Courts yet wish to cancel the Warrant of Arrest issued against you, you should approach the relevant prosecuting government agency to submit a cancellation request.
In this request, you should indicate the reasons for your absence with supporting documents. If your request is successful, the relevant agency will submit an application to cancel the warrant to the court.
District and Magistrate Courts
If you were supposed to appear before the District or Magistrate Courts but were absent, you can apply to cancel your Warrant of Arrest in two ways:
- Writing to the court
- Applying through the ICMS portal
In both cases, you should provide valid reasons for your absence and support it with relevant evidence or documents. Your application will be considered by the Judge of the court which ordered the warrant.
Examples of supporting documents include:
- A medical certificate indicating that you are unfit to attend court if you were absent from court due to sickness
- A memorandum from the Prisons stating the period of your sentence if you were absent from court as you were serving a sentence
How do I know if my application to cancel the Warrant of Arrest is successful?
You will be notified of the status of your application by the relevant authority you have applied to. You may also check if the Warrant of Arrest has been successfully cancelled by checking your warrant status on OWAES.
If your application to cancel the warrant was successful, a new hearing date will be fixed for you to appear in court for your case to be heard.
If your application was unsuccessful, you will be asked to surrender either to the relevant law enforcement agency or to the Warrant Enforcement Unit at the Police Cantonment Complex.
Can I Engage a Lawyer If I have been Issued a Warrant of Arrest?
You are free to engage a lawyer to obtain legal advice at any time if a Warrant of Arrest has been issued against you but you have not been arrested yet.
On the other hand, if you have been arrested under a Warrant of Arrest, you may not be able to engage a lawyer (if you don’t already have one), or get access to your lawyer (if you have already engaged one) until a reasonable time has passed since the arrest. This may include the time taken for the police to conduct investigations.
Therefore if a Warrant of Arrest has been issued against you, you may wish to speak to a criminal lawyer as soon as possible to obtain legal advice on your next course of action.
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- 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?
- 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 (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
- 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?
- 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
- Here 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
- 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?
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore