Oral Answer by SPS Rahayu Mahzam to PQ on Factors Taken Into Consideration When Deciding Whether To Press Charges Against Persons With Disabilities
10 Jan 2023 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng (Member of Parliament for Jalan Besar GRC)
To ask the Minister for Law (a) what are the factors taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to press charges against persons with disabilities, especially those with less than full mental capacity; and (b) whether the Ministry is able to share on any past case studies to illustrate the above.
- The responsibility for deciding whether to charge a person is vested in the Public Prosecutor, who exercises prosecutorial discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for any offence.
- In deciding whether to charge a person, the Public Prosecutor will consider the facts, the sufficiency of evidence and the public interest. This will involve a careful weighing of a wide range of factors, including the circumstances of the alleged offence and the person.
- Where the person has a mental condition or disability, the Public Prosecutor will consider the nature of the mental condition or disability, its severity, and the connection (if any) between the mental condition or disability and the alleged offence.
- Where appropriate, for example, where the person has no criminal history, the alleged offence is not serious, and the person’s culpability is lowered as a result of his mental condition or disability, the Public Prosecutor may decide to issue a warning, instead of charging the person. This may, in some cases, also involve a referral for treatment at facilities such as the Institute of Mental Health.
- If the Public Prosecutor decides to charge the person, the Public Prosecutor’s charging and sentencing position may be calibrated to take into account the person’s mental condition or disability.
- To illustrate: In a 2020 case, a 21-year-old offender committed offences of theft of an SCDF vehicle, cheating and causing hurt to another person by performing a rash act. He was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, a serious form of long-term major mental illness, which contributed to his offending. The Prosecution decided to charge him, considering that the offences were not minor. However, taking into account his mental condition, the Prosecution submitted for a mandatory treatment order to be imposed against the offender, which required the offender to undergo psychiatric treatment in lieu of imprisonment or a fine.
- Ultimately, the Public Prosecutor’s exercise of discretion as to whether to charge a person, including a person with a mental condition or disability, is a fact-dependent exercise.
Last updated on 10 January 2023