Probation is a community-based sentencing option by the court. It is an alternative to penal or corrective sentences that are carried out in juvenile homes or prison.

Who is eligible for Probation?

Under section 5 of the Probation of Offenders Act, you are generally eligible for probation if you are:

    • A first-time offender;
    • Older than 16 years of age and younger than 21 years of age;
    • Charged with an offence with either a mandatory minimum sentence OR a specified minimum sentence, and NOT an offence with sentence fixed by law.

The differences between the 3 types of offences mentioned in the previous point are as follows:

Offences with sentences that are fixed by law

Offenders who have committed an offence with a sentence that is fixed by law will not be eligible for probation.

An offence with a sentence “fixed by law” means that its sentence is fixed in quantum (duration or amount payable) and in type.

For example, if you have been charged with an offence which:

“shall be punishable with a $2,000 fine”

as prescribed by law, the court must impose a $2,000 fine on you.  Probation will not be an available alternative for you.

Offences with a mandatory minimum sentence

Offenders who have committed offences with a mandatory minimum sentence may be eligible for probation.

An offence with a mandatory minimum sentence is one where:

The law has prescribed a minimum quantum for a particular type of sentence; and the imposition of the type of sentence is mandatory.

For example, if you have been charged with an offence with a mandatory minimum sentence prescribed by the law to be:

“…shall be punished with imprisonment of at least 5 years and up to 15 years”

the court must impose the imprisonment sentence on you. However, the court can choose to vary the duration of the sentence from anywhere between 5 years and 15 years as prescribed by law.

Notwithstanding this mandatory minimum sentence, probation may remain an alternative sentencing option at the court’s discretion.

What if I am 21 years old or older. Does this mean I will not get Probation?

Do note that while probation is commonly ordered for those under the age of 21, the court may also order probation for offenders above the age of 21, provided that the offence is not one for which a specified minimum sentence, mandatory minimum sentence, fine or caning is prescribed by the law.

As the main sentencing principle underlying probation is rehabilitation, the court will consider whether you are capable of reform and, if so, whether probation will be most suited for helping you achieve reform.

There are several factors that the court will consider when deciding whether to grant probation:

    • The nature and severity of the offence;
    • Your character; and
    • A Pre-Sentence Report (PSR) prepared by the Probation Officer from the Ministry of Social and Family [MSF] containing background information on the offender’s family, education/work, social activity and attitude.

How Long Does Probation Last?

The probation period may range from 6 months to 3 years, which will be specified in the Probation Order. During this time, you will be placed under the supervision of a Probation Officer. The Parents will be bonded to ensure good behaviour.

The subject may also be electronically tagged, have a time restriction and asked to perform community service and attend programs fixed by the Probation Branch tailored to address the needs of the probationer.

What Happens in the event I Breach the Probation Order?

A breach of the Probation Order occurs when you do not comply with the conditions stated in the Probation Order. If so, you may be given warnings by the Probation Officer. You may even be taken to court, where the following may occur:

The probation order may be amended;

Or it can be revoked and you will be sentenced for the initial offence for which you were placed on probation.

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years over a wide variety of offences. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, or if you have been caught in a similar situation, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

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