Under sec 5(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act, the Court may sentence an accused to probation instead of a jail sentence. The main benefit and effect of probation are that the accused person does get a criminal record.
Sentence Fixed by Law
Under the law, probation is available to a young offender (although the court has made exceptions) and if the offence is one for which the sentence is ‘fixed by law’.
The law on the meaning of that crucial phrase ‘fixed by law’ has evolved over the years such that the fixed sentence group now covers these categories of offences:
1 where the court has no discretion as to type or quantum of sentence (eg murder, punishable only by death under s 302, Penal Code) – this category was always excluded, even before Juma’at;
2 where the court has no discretion as to type of sentence (imprisonment, fine or caning) but retains a discretion as to quantum subject to a mandatory minimum – this category, referred to here as ‘mandatory minimum offences’, was excluded after Juma’at; and
3 where the court retains a discretion as to both type and quantum of sentence but the law expressly prescribes a minimum quantum for a particular type of sentence even though the imposition of this minimum sentence is not mandatory (eg the offence of touting for business, punishable by fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months under s 32 of the Miscellaneous Offences Act) – this category, referred to as ‘specified minimum offences’, is discussed in Lim Li Ling.
Other Facts About Probation
When the Court places an accused on probation, it means that he will be placed under the supervision of a Probation Officer.
The probation period can last between six months to three years and is required to comply with certain conditions as stipulated by the Court. The Court can impose additional conditions of probation such as the Community Service Order, the Weekend Detention Order, the Detention Order and the Periodic Training Order.
MSF Probation Officers will supervise and support the probationers through their Probation Order. The Probation Officer will help the probationers work through the problems that led to the offence.
For more information please refer to the Attorney General’s Chambers, State Court and from this article from the Deputy Director & Chief Probation Officer, Ministry of Community Development and Sports.
For inquiries on criminal offences in Singapore or if looking for a criminal lawyer in Singapore, contact Ray Louis Law Corporation at +65-9090 8288.