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What You Should Do If Your Child Is Arrested For A Crime In Singapore

If your child ever gets arrested, being well-informed of their rights will be the best thing you can do to mitigate the damage.

In Singapore, the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MCRA) is 10 years old. This means that nothing a child does can be considered an offence if they’re under 10 years old. However, things get complicated if they’re 10 years old or older.

If your child is below 16 years of age, they may be sent to the Youth Court for the hearing. However, if they are 16 to 21 years old, they may be tried in either the State Court or High Court. In either instance, rehabilitation is the usual sentence, though the courts may demand exemptions.

The procedures for handling the arrest of a young person are outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 and the Children and Young Persons Act 1993 (CYPA). However, depending on the circumstances, there may be other legal frameworks that would apply, which is why you must immediately find an advocate for criminal defence in Singapore who specialises in youth offences.

How You Can Help Your Child Though you may not be representing your child, you can directly contribute to a positive outcome by taking these steps:

Consider the Wider Context Surrounding Youth Offences

The treatment of youth offenders has proven to be a highly controversial topic in Singapore. Since the 2010s, parliament and law enforcement officials have made several moves to offer more leniency for young offenders. However, such moves have not proven universally popular, as shown by reactions to a recent case when a 10-year-old child threw a cat from the 22nd floor of a high-rise building. This and other similar cases involving youth offenders show that even if your child is innocent or not technically culpable, simply being connected to a crime could impact their reputation and safety.

Stay Informed 

Aside from reading up on the Criminal Procedure Code 2010 and the CYPA, look up other laws that may apply to your child’s case. Keeping yourself abreast of relevant facts can provide valuable insights into potential implications for your child. If you’re not sure where to start, your child’s lawyer should be able to provide relevant references for you to look up.

Maintain Open Communication

Your child’s lawyer will be the main liaison between the authorities and your child. Regardless, you should keep lines of communication open with any parties handling the case and your child’s welfare, if they’re in state custody. This will help you ensure your child’s well-being and give you ideas on the progress of their case. Be sure to notify your child’s counsel of any significant updates, particularly any irregular incidents.

Attend to Your Child’s Emotional Needs

Children involved in criminal proceedings can be emotionally vulnerable. If you have the resources, seek professional counselling services that have experience with young offenders.

Understand the Available Rehabilitation Options

Singapore’s conviction rates are relatively high. If your child is arrested, there is a fair chance that they may be found guilty. However, the courts usually offer some flexibility when it comes to the rehabilitation of young offenders. Look up these options to get a better idea about the choices to make, should the courts find your child guilty.

Participate Actively in Court Proceedings 

Attend all court proceedings related to your child’s case and cooperate fully with their legal counsel. Your presence not only provides support to your child but also keeps you up to date with the legal proceedings.

Protect Your Family’s Privacy

Avoid divulging any sensitive information to parties who are not directly involved in the proceedings. This includes family members, colleagues, and especially members of the press. Your child’s counsel will be able to give you specific advice on whom you should and shouldn’t talk to.

Understand Legal and Personal Ramifications

Criminal records will impact your child’s future, both legally and personally. For instance, potential employers may become prejudiced against your child if they uncover an arrest as a minor, even if it did not result in a conviction. Likewise, the very experience of being arrested is likely to shape your child’s outlook as an adult in unpredictable ways. Be prepared for the likely outcomes and be proactive in dealing with the potential negatives that result from the arrest.

Contact a Lawyer Before Your Child is Arrested

If you believe that your child will soon be arrested for a crime, contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately. Early access to legal counsel can remove much of the confusion that comes with being arrested and may bolster your child’s chances of a positive outcome. Your child’s counsel may also be able to arrange for a smoother turnover to the authorities, lessening the emotional impact of the arrest. Importantly, with qualified legal experts at your side, you can focus on your own responsibilities in your child’s defence.