The Criminal Law Reform Bill of 2019 took effect from 1 January 2020. It enhanced penalties for sexual exploitation offences involving minors below the age of 16 and addressed new offences for sexual exploitation of minors between 16 and 18 years of age.
The Law – Penal Code (Cap. 224) and CYPA (Cap. 38)
Sexual penetration of minor under 16
376A.—(1) Any person (A) who —
|(a)||penetrates, with A’s penis, the vagina, anus or mouth, as the case may be, of a person under 16 years of age (B);|
|(b)||sexually penetrates, with a part of A’s body (other than A’s penis, if a man) or anything else, the vagina or anus, as the case may be, of a person under 16 years of age (B);
[Act 15 of 2019 wef 01/01/2020]
|(c)||causes a man under 16 years of age (B) to penetrate, with B’s penis, the vagina, anus or mouth, as the case may be, of another person including A; or|
|(d)||causes a person under 16 years of age (B) to sexually penetrate, with a part of B’s body (other than B’s penis, if a man) or anything else, the vagina or anus, as the case may be, of any person including A or B, shall be guilty of an offence.|
Singapore’s laws do not allow for a minor below 16 to consent to sexual acts, and stipulate heavy punishments to deter potential offenders. The maximum sentence for sexual penetration of a minor is 20 years and fine or caning. Under Section 375(3) of the Penal Code, if the victim is below 14 years of age and did not consent to the act or was in an exploitative relationship with the offender, the offender faces a mandatory imprisonment term of not less than 8 years (and not more than 20 years) and mandatory caning of not less than 12 strokes.
In the interests of further protecting children and young persons, the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) was passed in 1993. Section 7 of this Act (as at 24 March 2020) states that:
|Sexual exploitation of child or young person|
|7. Any person who, in public or private —
Further, under Section 376AA of the Penal Code, sexual penetration of a minor between 16 and 18 years of age is an offence if the relationship is exploitative of the said minor. Offender face an imprisonment term of up to 15 years and fine or caning.
Recently, our client’s case was reported in The Straits Times. He was facing 3 proceeded charges, 2 charges under Section 376A of the Penal Code for sexual penetration of a minor and 1 charge under Section 7(a) of the CYPA for sexual exploitation of a child. The Public Prosecutor’s sentencing position was as follows:
- At least 3 years’ imprisonment for each of the sexual penetration charges;
- At least 14-16 months’ imprisonment for the sexual exploitation charge; and
- For the sexual penetration and sexual exploitation charge’s sentences to run consecutively.
The Prosecution made convincing arguments, highlighting the 14-year-old victim’s vulnerable position as our client’s student, how our client had abused both the victim’s and her parents’ trust, and the premeditation behind his offence. Their submissions on sentence would have resulted in our client getting a jail term of more than 4 years.
However, our plea-in-mitigation brought up equally compelling points. We clearly explained our client’s remorse in not drawing a clear boundary between his personal emotions and duty as an educator. We showed how the disappointment of his family and loved ones in his actions had given them new resolve in helping him change for the better. We tendered sincere apology letters from him and his loved ones to the victim. Importantly, we submitted that there was no sexual grooming, or calculated steps taken by our client to introduce the victim to sexual acts in a gradual manner. Under the new Section 376E of the Penal Code (Act 15 of 2019 with effect from 1 January 2020), sexual grooming of a minor under 16 is punishable with up to a 4-year imprisonment term or fine or both.
After considering both ours and the prosecution’s submissions, the Learned District Judge Christopher Goh sentenced our client to 3 years and 7 months’ jail. Our client had sent the following review to Singapore Legal Advice:
“Thank you Ray and Team for helping me these past few months.
Really appreciate your hard work and tremendous support.
My family trusted the team from the start and no matter the outcome, I’m glad that I made the choice to allow Ray Louis Law to represent me.
Thank you once again.”
We are determined to fight for a fair outcome for your criminal defence case. For more information, please contact our criminal lawyer Ray Louis at 9090 8288.