Love Gone Wrong: A SingaporeLegalAdvice Valentine’s Day Special

Featured image for the "Love Gone Wrong: A SingaporeLegalAdvice Valentine's Day Special" article. It features a girl recoiling as her boyfriend puckers up and leans in for a kiss.

The single most anticipated and most dreaded day of the year is here – February 14, or Valentine’s Day.

If you are happily attached, you probably belong to the first group. If you are single, you probably have a few tricks up your sleeve to find a date and get yourself into the first group. But whichever group you are in, don’t let love take you outside the bounds of the law!

Here are 11 things you should not be doing when dating someone if you do not want to get into trouble with the law.

Finding Love

1. Do not use others’ profile pictures as your own

Dating apps have become an increasingly popular method of getting to know more people and scoring dates for Valentine’s Day. It is also common for some users to use someone else’s profile picture as their own to look more chio or macho.

Do not do so if you do not have that person’s permission, as it could be a form of copyright infringement which may leave you exposed to a private lawsuit under section 119 of the Copyright Act.

Furthermore, it is definitely not nice (or wise!) to mislead your potential partner about your outward appearance or personality.

2. Do not stalk your prospective lovers

We have all heard the literary phrase, “Love is like a magnet, it pulls you together”. This may explain why some may feel the urge to be close to their eye-candy or find out what their crush is up to.

Unfortunately, this could constitute unlawful stalking under section 7 of the Protection from Harassment Act, which criminalises conduct amounting to harassment and unlawful stalking.

This means that following your crush from his workplace to his home or even incessantly sending your eye-candy direct messages on Instagram could constitute an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act.

Of course, stalking is also incredibly creepy!

Celebrating Love

3. Do not break into prohibited areas

Valentine’s Day is the day to post photos on Instagram and declare your love for your partner. Where better than to take a photo at hipster, off-the-beaten-track photo spots?

Unfortunately, illegal entry into prohibited areas may leave you liable for criminal trespass under section 441 of the Penal Code. Such areas include closed-off rooftops or even Insta-famous sites such as the Istana Woodneuk and Lim Chu Kang Jetty.

And while it may be romantic to hang out at Botanic Gardens for a midnight picnic, you may be charged for trespassing after opening hours!

4. Do not vandalise

Love is everlasting, but that does not mean that you may immortalise your love by writing your initials in a heart shape on walls, bridges or playgrounds.

Vandalism is an offence under section 3 of the Vandalism Act. Penalties could include a fine, imprisonment and even caning depending on the severity of the vandalism.

5. Do not drink in public at night

Night-time picnics at Henderson Waves or Gardens by the Bay seem like great date ideas – as long as they do not include booze.

Section 12 of the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act bans drinking in all public places from 10.30pm to 7am. Longer hours apply to designated Liquor Control Zones such as Geylang and Little India.

If you are found drinking illegally, you may be fined up to $1,000 and/or imprisoned up to 1 month (or fined up to $2,000 and/or jailed up to 3 months for repeat offenders).

Stick to a comfortable night at home (this includes private condominiums) or over some food in F&B establishments if you want to drink.

Getting it On

6. Do not engage in sexual relations if it is not consensual

It is not surprising that many couples will engage in intimate relations on this special day.

However, men should always get consent from their dates before making any moves. Otherwise, they may be charged for rape under section 375 of the Penal Code.

(Women: don’t think you’ll be spared if you force yourself on your non-consenting partner – you can be charged for sexual assault by penetration under section 376 of the Penal Code!)

7. Do not engage in sexual relations with a minor

Love does not know age – if your date is young, you must ensure that your date is not a minor before engaging in any form of sexual relations with him or her (even with your date’s consent).

Anyone below 16 years of age is considered a minor. You must also ensure that you have obtained informed consent, meaning that you must confirm your partner’s age instead of simply believing your partner’s answer at face value.

Doing so might ruin the mood but that beats being charged for sexual penetration of a minor under section 376A of the Penal Code. Just last month, a 23-year-old SAF sergeant was sentenced to 15 months’ jail for having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl he met online.

8. Do not engage in sexual relations in a public place

Even if you are engaging in consensual sexual relations with a person of legal age, do not do so in a public place. This includes any public areas such as parks, staircases or toilets. It also includes your car!

Otherwise, you may be charged for indecent behaviour under section 20 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act.

9. Do not film intimate videos

Many couples want to keep memorabilia to commemorate the special occasion. However do not film any intimate videos, even with your partner’s consent.

If you are found to be in the possession of obscene films, you can be liable for an offence under section 30 of the Films Act.

10. Do not walk around the house naked while in public view

Even after being intimate at home, don’t forget to put on some clothes afterwards! If you find it spicy and exciting to walk around your house naked with your loved one, at least make sure that all windows are closed and the curtains are drawn.

Pursuant to section 27A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, it is an offence to be naked in a private place while being exposed to public view.

After the Celebrations

11. Do not drink and drive

After a night of partying, do not drive your date home while you yourself are drunk. You can be liable for drink-driving under section 67 of the Road Traffic Act.

This applies even if the alcohol content in your breath or blood does not exceed the prescribed legal limit, provided you are found to be incapable of having proper control of your vehicle.

If you know that you will be drinking on your date, leave your car at home. You can always call a taxi instead.

Love knows no bounds…but the law does! As long as you keep these laws in mind, Valentine’s Day should be a memorable occasion for the right reasons. Happy Valentine’s Day!