Where there is a dispute of facts that materially affects the sentence, a party may request for a Newton Hearing. This can occur at any stage of the sentencing process.

Such hearings are also applicable in scenarios where the accused disputes facts and discloses an offence different to that which the accused pleaded guilty to. To put it another way, if some part of the information is disputed, it is open to the court to hold a Newton hearing instead of rejecting the plea completely.  

A few scenarios where there is a dispute of facts include the following: –

  • Conflicting medical reports;
  • Disputes over criminal records; or
  • Disagreement over facts/statements from the mitigation plea.

A Newton hearing bears only on the sentence, and is generally conducted after a guilty plea has been accepted.

This form of hearing is more so an exception than a norm, and is not ordinarily convened.

Evidence should be called in a “normal” (i.e., standard) way by counsel for the accused, and the prosecution. It is an investigation of the facts of a case in order for the sentencer to be properly apprised of the actual basis upon which he should sentence (Goh Kheng Song v PP [1993] 1 MLJ 103).

In Anita Damu v PP [2020] 3 SLR 825; [2019] SGHC 233, the accused committed various acts of abuse against her domestic helper. After conviction, she tendered a mitigation plea with the following claims: –

  • She was suffering from major depressive disorder with psychotic features; and
  • She experiences auditory hallucinations.

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The Prosecution made it abundantly clear that solely due to the allegations of auditory hallucinations, the hearing was converted to a Newton hearing. Psychiatrists were of the opinion that the accused (appellant) suffered from major depressive disorder with psychotic features – being that of auditory hallucinations. Therefore, the District Judge accepted that the appellant was suffering at the time of the offences.

A Newton hearing is conducted like a trial, where both parties are able to call and examine witnesses through 3 stages of examination-in-chief, cross-examination, and re-examination before closing submissions are made. The judge then makes a decision on the disputed issue of fact. Following that, the judge proceeds with the rest of the sentencing process.

Where you might require more advice and consultancy about your case and the legal procedures, it is ideal to consult a lawyer for guidance and representation. Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, family disputes to high-profile criminal cases. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.