Understanding Criminal Charges And The Statement Of Facts In Singapore

Understanding Criminal Charges And The Statement Of Facts In Singapore

During the Plead Guilty Process in Singapore, the Court will have to ascertain that you understand the criminal charges against you and that you fully admit to both the criminal charges as well as the facts relating to the charges as well.

During the Plead Guilty hearing, the charge(s) and Statement of Facts (SOF) will be read to you in English, or if necessary, in a language that you understand. The Court has to ensure that you agree to the elements of the charge(s) as well as the content of the SOF before moving on to take your plea of guilt.

After both the charge(s) and SOF has been read to you, you will then be asked to confirm that you wish to plead guilty to the charge(s) and that you understand the nature and consequences of pleading guilty, and that you admit to your offences without qualification. However, if you are represented by counsel, then the Court will ask your counsel to confirm the same.

What Are Criminal Charges?

Criminal charges are the most important documents for criminal proceedings in Singapore. These charges essentially contain the prosecution's case against you. It lets you know what offence you are alleged to have committed and the details of the punishment that you can possibly face.

The content of the charges must precisely state what is alleged against you so that you know the elements of the offence and if you agree with or dispute these allegations.

Criminal charges must contain:-

  1. All the essential ingredients of the offence;
  2. The particulars of the offence;
  3. The charge number; and
  4. If monetary losses are involved, the values and particulars of the offence must be stated.

What Is The Statement Of Facts?

The SOF details the material facts relating to your charge(s) and usually describes the nature of your involvement and conduct in committing the offences.

It forms the basis of your charge(s) and the ingredients of the charge(s) against you. Essentially, the difference between the SOG and the charge(s) is that the charge(s) set out the essential facts while the SOF elaborates on these facts.

This is an important document as the content within can sway the Court in determining your culpability in the matter and accordingly lead to a higher or lower sentence.

The SOF has to be read to you before you can plead guilty. After the SOF has been read to you, you will have to inform the Court if you agree fully with the contents of the SOF or disagree with any of the facts contained in the SOF.

It is generally helpful to have a lawyer to assist you in spotting irrelevant and aggravating points which the prosecution may have included in the SOF. There may be excessive details that your lawyer can assist you in assessing whether you would like to dispute these details. 

If you wish to dispute any details in the SOF, it will be necessary for a Newton Hearing to be held. A Newton Hearing is essentially a mini-trial. Even if you wish to plead guilty to an offence, there may be situations when it is necessary to hold this mini-trial to get an accurate assessment of the material facts. Newton Hearings can be convened for other issues other than issues in the SOF as well.

Some examples of disputes leading to a Newton Hearing would include:-

  • issues over the content of medical reports;
  • the truth of facts relied upon in mitigation pleas;
  • the truth of facts relied upon in the SOF; and
  • disputes relating to antecedents.

Ultimately, even if you choose not to dispute the SOF, it is still necessary for you to be mindful of your choices in doing so. If you agree entirely to the SOF, or choose to concede to any facts you don't necessarily agree with, the Court will record your plea of guilt and convict you on your charge(s).


If you are contemplating your options with respect to pleading guilty or claiming trial in a 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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