What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?

Last updated on January 2, 2020

Featured image for the "What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?" article. It features a woman defending herself from a snatch thief.

Self-defence is known as “private defence” in Singapore. Private defence is a form of legal defence that may have the effect of absolving a person of legal liability if that person hurt or killed another person in order to defend himself.

Private defence is written law, being covered under sections 96 to 106 of the Singapore Penal Code. It includes the defence of your life and body from physical harm such as hurt and rape. It also includes the right to defend your property, either movable (like a car) or immovable (like a house), from theft, robbery, mischief or criminal trespass.

Private defence also includes the right to defend another person or his property from harm.


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Swipe 👉 With the recent news about people fighting in the MRT, it’s best to know what you can (or cannot!) do to defend yourself if you ever get caught in such a situation. 🤧 – Apart from the examples mentioned in picture #4 (on when self-defence applies), keep in mind that you cannot inflict more harm than is necessary for self-defence! 😤🙅‍♀️ If it is clear that your attacker has been defeated or repelled, it is not reasonable for you to continue attacking him in the name of self-defence. – It’s also good to note that the right to self-defence can extend to killing your attacker in certain extreme situations, such as rape or robbery. It may not be illegal to kill your attacker if you might’ve gotten killed, or grievously hurt, if you did not do so. Unless the situation is dire, though, it’s best to seek the help of the police 👮‍♂️or people nearby! #SingaporeLegalAdvice

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When Can You Rely on the Right of Private Defence?

However, a few requirements have to be satisfied for the defence to succeed in court. For example, there is no right of private defence if there are opportunities to seek police protection.

There is generally also no right of private defence against a public servant carrying out his duties. For instance, private defence cannot be used to justify attacking a police officer who is trying to subdue you.

In contrast, there is a right of private defence against an insane person, if that person had been trying to attack you.

What Can You Do under the Right of Private Defence?

Section 98(1) of the Penal Code also states that a person cannot inflict more harm than is necessary for self-defence. If it is clear that the attacker has been repelled or defeated, it is not reasonable for you to continue attacking him in the name of private defence.

In extreme cases, a person can kill an attacker in private defence, but only under the following circumstances. Section 102 of the Penal Code states that private defence can extend to voluntarily causing death if:

  1. You were assaulted and had reasonably apprehended death or grievous hurt if you had not taken action to defend yourself
  2. You were being raped (or having your mouth, vagina or anus penetrated by the attacker’s penis)
  3. You were being kidnapped
  4. You were being wrongfully confined
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