The Trial Process: How A Lawyer Can Assist You In Criminal Proceedings In Singapore

The Trial Process: How A Lawyer Can Assist You In Criminal Proceedings In Singapore

What Does It Mean To Claim Trial In Singapore?

You’ve allegedly committed a criminal offence and you’ve been charged in Court. After the charges have been read and explained to you, you’ll usually be asked whether you need to seek advice from a lawyer, or whether you wish to plead guilty or claim trial to the charge(s) against you.

If you wish to contest the charge(s) against you, you will have to claim trial to present your case against the prosecution.

What Is The Criminal Trial Process In Singapore?

Criminal trials vary in difficulty and complexity and how the trial process goes does depend on how the trial develops. For example, ancillary hearings (known as “voir dires”) may need to be convened during the course of the trial. Another example would be if a witness (for either the prosecution or the defence) turns “hostile” during the proceedings.

However, the criminal trial process in Singapore usually proceeds in the manner as follows:-

Pre-Trial Conference

After you have given indication to the Court that you wish to claim trial, the Court will fix your matter for a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC). This PTC is no longer open to the public at the Mentions Court (usually Court 4A or 4B) and most PTCs are currently conducted via Zoom.

A number of PTCs will usually be convened subsequently for your lawyer and the prosecution to facilitate the administrative details for your trial. This can vary widely in scope, and common administrative aspects to settle include arrangements for medical reports, fixing trial dates, confirming witnesses and expert witnesses, etc.

The Criminal Case Disclosure Conference

In certain scenarios, the PTC will be converted to a Criminal Case Disclosure Conference (CCDC) fixed under Section 159 and Section 160 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The CCDC is a system of reciprocal disclosure between the prosecution and defence and will be arranged for criminal offences listed in the Second Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code that are tried in a District Court.

If CCDC does not automatically apply, consent of all parties will be required for CCDC to apply. It is also possible for you to inform the court accordingly if you do not wish for the CCDC procedure to apply.

The Trial Proper

At the actual trial itself, the charge(s) will be read and explained to you (if necessary, by a Court Interpreter), and after you state that you wish to claim trial to the charge(s), the matter moves onto the trial proper.

Prosecution’s Case

The Prosecution opens its case and will call in its witnesses for the trial. For each witness, the process starts with the examination-in-chief by the prosecution, followed by the cross-examination by the defence. Subsequently, after the defence has cross-examined the witness, the Prosecution has the option to re-examine the witness on the questions posed during the cross-examination.

Once all of the Prosecution’s witnesses have given their evidence, the Prosecution will close its case and the Defence can then make a submission at this stage that there is no case to answer.

This submission of “no case to answer” is usually used in specific scenarios and is not often used in practice due to the difficulty of succeeding in this submission.

Defence’s Case

If there is no submission of “no case to answer” or if the submission fails, the Court will then call on the accused to give his defence. The accused’s lawyer will proceed with the examination-in-chief of the accused before cross-examination by the prosecution and re-examination (if necessary) by the accused’s lawyer.

Subsequently, after the accused has finished his testimony, the Defence will call on the rest of the Defence’s witnesses to provide their evidence in the same manner (examination-in-chief, cross-examination, re-examination).

Rebuttal Witnesses

After the Defence has concluded their case, the Prosecution has the right to call/recall witnesses for the purpose of rebutting any aspect of the Defence’s case.

End Of the Trial

Subsequently, both the Prosecution and Defence will present their closing submissions to the Court. Depending on Judge hearing the matter, the Court may choose to hear oral submissions or request for written submissions by both sides. The majority of the time, the Court would allow the parties the opportunity to present both oral and written submissions within a reasonable period.

The Court will then make a decision on whether the Prosecution has proved its case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the event the accused is found guilty, the Court will convict the accused and move onto sentencing and mitigation. The Defence will then move onto making a Mitigation Plea for the accused.

If the accused is found not guilty, the accused is acquitted and the accused leaves the Court a free man.


In the event the accused is found guilty and disagrees with the decision of the Court, the accused can file an appeal against his conviction and/or sentence within 14 days of the Court’s decision.

Do also note that it is also possible for the Prosecution to file an appeal in the event the Prosecution disagrees with the decision of the Court.


If you require assistance with 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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