You MUST know this if a police report is made against you!
- If someone makes a police report against me, how will the police contact me?
- Do I have the right to remain silent?
- Do I have the right to consult a lawyer?
- Will my mobile phone be retained by the investigating officer?
- Will I be arrested?
- What happens when the investigating officer completes his/her investigation?
- If I am framed or wrongly accused, do I have any recourse against the accuser?
- Will my family, friends and/or employer know that I am under investigation?
- How do criminal cases get reported in the media?
1. If someone makes a police report against me, how will the police contact me?
If the allegation is not so serious and not urgent, the investigating officer may try to obtain your mobile phone number from the complainant or any other witnesses, and call you to attend an interview on a mutually convenient date. If the allegation is a little more serious and a little more urgent, the investigating officer may call you to attend an interview immediately. If the allegation is very serious or very urgent, the investigating officer may visit your workplace or home to escort you to the police station for an interview.
2. Do I have a right of silence?
You do not have the right to remain silent in Singapore. Your failure to answer the investigating officer’s questions can and will be used against you in court later. You may be asked to explain a particular issue repeatedly on separate and different occasions, and every inconsistency in your explanations can and will be used against you in court later. Your poor choice of words can and will be used against you in court later. If you do not speak English and your statement is translated to English by a police translator, the police translator’s poor choice of words will be attributed to you and any inconsistencies can and will be used against you in court later. If you give the investigating officer an untruthful statement, you could be prosecuted for giving the police a false statement. If you are innocent or wrongly accused, do not withhold any information from the investigating officer. If you withhold certain information from the investigating officer and reveal such information only at a later stage of the investigation, the investigating officer may choose to disbelieve you. Your forthrightness and honesty towards the investigating officer from the outset will go a long way to convincing him of your innocence.
3. Do I have the right to consult a lawyer?
You do not have the right to consult a lawyer when the investigating officer is interviewing you. If you wish to consult a lawyer, you should do so before your police interview. If you have no opportunity to consult a lawyer before the police interview, then you should do so immediately after the police interview while the interview is still fresh in your memory. You are strongly urged to seek legal advice as soon as possible so that your lawyer may try to persuade the police of your innocence during the investigation process. If you mishandle any part of the investigatory process, any bad impression of you formed by the investigating officer may be difficult to undo by the time you engage a lawyer.
4. Will my mobile phone be retained by the investigating officer?
Depending on the nature of the allegation against you, your mobile phone is likely to be checked for evidence or even retained by the police for forensic investigation. If you delete the contents of your mobile phone, or abandoned or discarded your mobile phone, you could be prosecuted for destroying evidence. If the forensic investigation uncovers any evidence of wrongdoing, the evidence can and will be used against you in court later. If the forensic investigation uncovers unrelated offences eg pornography, the police could prosecute you for the unrelated offence, or use this to pressurize you to “cooperate” in their investigation.
5. Will I be arrested?
If the allegation against you is not so serious, the investigating officer may conduct his investigation and record a statement from you without having to arrest you. But if the allegation against you is a serious one and there is some evidence of your wrongdoing, then the investigating officer may place you under arrest and release you on bail after recording a statement from you.
6. What happens when the investigating officer completes his investigation?
After the investigating officer records statements from the complainant, the suspect, and all the relevant witnesses, the investigating officer would submit his/her recommendation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The AGC would instruct the investigating officer to prosecute you in court, issue you a warning, or take no further action in the matter. From the time of the police report to the communication of the investigation outcome to you usually takes about six months.
7. If I am framed or wrongly accused, do I have any recourse against the accuser?
If you are framed or wrongly accused, consult a lawyer on the possibility of suing the accuser for defamation and/or persuading the police to prosecute the accuser for making a false report and/or giving a false statement.
8. Will my family, friends and/or employer know that I am under investigation?
The police will not reveal to anyone that you are under investigation, except when they interview witnesses. Other than out of necessity in the course of their investigation, the police will not seek to embarrass you. If you are innocent, the investigation would likely come to nought with no further action being taken against you. In these circumstances, you should try to carry on with your daily routine as normally as possible so as not to cause unnecessary alarm to your family, friends and employer (unless your employment contract requires you to declare such investigations).
9. How do criminal cases get reported in the media?
Criminal cases get reported in the media only after the matter surfaces in court. Prior to this, journalists generally have no access to criminal cases. The exception to this is when a major crime happens eg murder, or when the police bust a crime syndicate and holds a press conference.