What Happens When You Are Investigated For A Criminal Offence In Singapore?

What Happens When You Are Investigated For A Criminal Offence In Singapore?


Going through a police investigation for a criminal offence can be a stomach-churning process. It’s already intimidating enough to have to go through the investigation, let alone being able to understand and ensure that boundaries aren’t being pushed.

As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and knowledge of the police investigation process can help alleviate some of the fears you may have if you end up being in the unfortunate position of going through a criminal investigation.

Why Are Investigations Conducted?

The police and relevant authorities conduct investigations to obtain the necessary facts and evidence to assist them in coming to a decision on whether it is appropriate to proceed with criminal charges.

Generally, investigations commence when a police report is made, either in person at a police station or through the phone. These reports are also known as First Information Reports and once these reports are made, an Investigation Officer (IO) will be assigned to the matter.

How Long Do Criminal Investigations Take In Singapore?

The unfortunate answer is that investigations take as long as they are required. Some investigations can even drag on for years. It depends on the nature and complexity of the matter as well as how long it takes for the authorities to obtain the necessary evidence.

Process Flow For A Criminal Investigation

1. Interviews and Recording of Statements

Generally, an IO will conduct the interview and question you regarding the details of the offence(s). If necessary, an interpreter will also be present for the interview to be conducted properly.

The IO has wide powers to record statements under the law in Singapore. Essentially, the IO can record statements from anyone it deems to possess knowledge regarding the details of the matter, and this includes both witnesses and suspects.

It is useful to note that in the appropriate circumstances, you can only be detained for up to 48 hours before you have to be released. In the event your detention needs to be extended beyond 48 hours, you will have to be brought to Court and the Court will have to approve the extension.

2. Conducting Searches And Gathering Evidence

Searches may be conducted to uncover documents, property, physical goods or other materials which may be required as exhibits to be used as evidence in potential criminal proceedings.

If necessary, the police can also direct for a polygraph (lie detector) test. However, you cannot be forced to take the test against your will and the results of the test cannot be admitted as evidence in court as well.

However, the results of the test can lead the police to decide on whether or not to recommend prosecution subsequently.

3. Referral to the Prosecution

It is a common misconception that the police are the ones who bring the charges against accused parties in Singapore. The reality is that the police will refer the matter to the prosecution after completing their investigations

In Singapore, it is the Attorney-General’s Chambers that initiate criminal charges, not the police. The prosecution takes into consideration the recommendations from the police but has prosecutorial discretion in deciding whether to initiate legal proceedings or not.


If you require assistance with a potential criminal matter, we can assist. Just get in touch with us through our contact form below and we will follow up with you regarding your matter.

Alternatively, you may wish to get in touch by contacting us at: 6550 6359

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Filed under: Criminal Defence
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