How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
If you are being investigated or charged with a criminal offence in Singapore, you may wish to send a letter of representation to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).
While there is no legal reason why you cannot write such a letter yourself, a letter of representation written by a suspect or accused person may not be taken into serious consideration by AGC. Because of this, and because the drafting of a letter of representation involves numerous strategic decisions and requires substantive legal knowledge, such a letter should always be drafted by a lawyer.
This article will cover:
- What a letter of representation is
- What goes into a letter of representation
- How and to whom should the letter of representation be sent
- The possible outcomes upon sending a letter of representation to AGC
What is a Letter of Representation?
A letter of representation is a letter to the AGC that sets out reasons why they should either not charge you, drop charges against you or seek a particular sentence from the court.
In theory, you can send as many letters of representation as you like, but typically a lawyer would send between 1–3, depending on the strategic considerations which may apply to your case. Such a letter can be sent at any stage of proceedings from the investigation stage to the sentencing stage.
A letter of representation is different from a mitigation plea. A letter of representation is addressed to the AGC and seeks their agreement regarding some aspect of your case.
On the other hand, a mitigation plea is a legal submission addressed to and filed with a sentencing court with the objective of providing the court with the legal and factual bases for the sentence you are seeking, in cases where you have already been found guilty.
What Goes in a Letter of Representation?
A letter of representation, if written by a lawyer, typically opens with a reference to the person being represented in the letter.
If charges have already been brought against that person, the letter may be captioned by reference to the case number.
Outcome being sought
The letter of representation will then usually open with a brief statement that explains what outcome to the case the letter will seek.
The possible outcomes that may be sought include the charges being dropped, stern or conditional warnings being administered or specific sentences being recommended to the court in the event of a guilty plea. These letters are sometimes also marked “without prejudice”.
Reasons for the outcome being sought
The letter should then set out the facts relevant to the case that support the outcome being sought. Depending on the strategic considerations in your case, the letter may refer to:
- Any evidence that supports the facts upon which you rely to support the outcome being sought. Copies of such evidence may even be attached to the letter, but the decision on whether to attach any evidence to the letter is ultimately a strategic one to be taken by a lawyer, taking into consideration all the circumstances of your case; or
- The existence of witnesses who will corroborate those facts. These witnesses may even be identified in your letter.
Ideally, the letter of representation should make reference to similar past cases which had resulted in outcomes similar to those you are seeking, and explain how those cases are analogous (i.e. factually similar) to your case.
Your likely next steps
The letter of representation should then briefly set out your likely next steps, depending on whether AGC accedes to your request. These steps could be to claim trial, plead guilty or make some relevant submission to court for example.
Offers (if appropriate)
The letter can, if appropriate, also include offers, with or without an admission of guilt, to do other things such as write an apology and/or pay restitution to a victim, or to commit to voluntary community programmes such as counselling or charitable work.
Reservation of your rights
The letter, if drafted by a lawyer, should conclude with an acknowledgement that your lawyer has advised you on the legal consequences of being untruthful in the letter and a full reservation of your rights.
You may also wish to include a reasonable deadline within which you expect to receive a response, although there is no guarantee the AGC will have any regard to this.
How to Send the Letter of Representation and to Whom
These letters are typically sent in PDF format via a generic online form maintained by the AGC for this purpose.
If your case is at an advanced stage of proceedings however, your lawyer may also send it to a specific prosecutor(s) (or send it to only such specific prosecutor(s)).
What are the Possible Outcomes Upon Sending a Letter of Representation?
If the AGC decides to accede to your request, they may write back to inform you of this and list any conditions for their agreement.
Sometimes, they may send a counter-offer whereby they offer to recommend a specific sentence to the court, or drop one or more charges, if you agree to plead guilty to some or all of the charges, and/or agree to some other request such as paying restitution to the victim.
If the AGC is unable to accede to your request, you may receive a very short template response from the AGC stating that, having carefully considered your representations, they are unable to accede to your request.
Sometimes, no response is sent, and the prosecutor will simply mention orally to the court that AGC received representations and that they will not accede to the request(s) therein.
It should be clear from the above that the drafting of a letter of representation is not a simple matter of sending a short letter asking for leniency or saying you are sorry.
There are many requests to consider and many different permutations of all those requests, some of which may or may not be available or appropriate to you depending on the facts of your case and your own profile.
Only a criminal lawyer is in a position to meaningfully advise you on how to best advance your interests in a criminal investigation or prosecution.
Hence, if you are being investigated for a crime in Singapore, you should always seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.
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