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Fact sheet on the proposed amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code

Posted in Press releases


1.             The Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2012 and the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill 2012 will be introduced in Parliament on 15 October 2012.


2.             On 9 July 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Teo Chee Hean, and the Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, announced in Parliament the Government’s intention to reform the mandatory death penalty as it applies to drug trafficking and murder.

3.             The Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) will be amended to effect the changes to the mandatory death penalty as it applies to drug trafficking, alongside other amendments to the MDA. (Please refer to MHA's News Release for more details.)

4.             The Penal Code will be amended to effect the changes to the mandatory death penalty as it applies to murder. Related procedural reforms will also be made to the Criminal Procedure Code.

5.             A copy of the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill and the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill are at Annexes A and B respectively.

Key Amendments

Penal Code

6.             Section 300 of the Penal Code provides that culpable homicide amounts to murder when it is done with 1:

(a)           the intention to kill;
(b)           the intention to cause injury, coupled with the knowledge that such injury is likely to cause death;
(c)           the intention to cause injury (with the intended injury being objectively sufficient in the ordinary cause of nature to cause death); and
(d)           the knowledge that the relevant act is so imminently dangerous that death is virtually certain or likely as a result.

7.             Currently, the mandatory death penalty will be imposed in all four scenarios.

8.             The law will be amended to provide that, in cases of murder where killing is not intentional (that is, murder falling within the meaning of Section 300(b), (c) or (d)), the Court will have the discretion to sentence the accused to death or life imprisonment. The Court may also order caning in cases where life imprisonment is ordered.

9.             For consistency, the option of imposing a fine will be removed when life imprisonment is imposed for culpable homicide not amounting to murder (under Section 304 of the Penal Code). The option of caning in such cases, as is already provided for, will be retained.

10.          As announced in Parliament on 9 July 2012, all existing cases, if eligible, will be considered for re-sentencing under the new law. Accused persons sentenced to death for murder may apply to adduce further evidence to show that their cases fall under Section 300(b), (c) or (d). Existing cases that are determined to fall under Section 300(a) would have their death sentence affirmed; for existing murder cases that fall under Section 300(b), (c) or (d), the accused persons will be re-sentenced. Resentencing will take place at the first instance in the High Court, with the option of an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

11.          Further, existing murder cases will also be re-considered for clemency.

Criminal Procedure Code

12.          The Criminal Procedure Code will be amended to provide that an appeal against a conviction can be filed only after sentence is passed in respect of that conviction. This will ensure that appeals against the conviction and sentence are heard together, in line with the practice today. The provisions will apply to all criminal cases and not just capital punishment cases.

13.          Amendments will also be made to create a mechanism for the Court of Appeal to review a sentence of death passed by the High Court where there is no appeal by the accused. In such cases, the Public Prosecutor will be required to file a petition for confirmation with the Court of Appeal, who will review the correctness, legality and propriety of the conviction and sentence. No sentence of death can be carried out unless confirmed by the Court of Appeal on appeal or review. This will provide an additional safeguard in our capital punishment regime.


14.          The proposed changes will ensure that our sentencing frameworknews/press-releases/fact-sheet-on-the-proposed-amendments-to-the-penal-code-and-criminal-procedure-code.htmlproperly balances the Government’s cardinal objectives: crime must be deterred, and society must be protected against criminals, and that those convicted receive a punishment that is appropriate to the severity of the crime committed.

15.          The Government believes that the amendments strike the right balance for Singapore today. They will ensure that our criminal justice system continues to provide the framework for a safe and secure Singapore, while meeting the need for fairness and justice in each case. 

Annex A : Penal Code (Amendment) Bill

Annex B: Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill

[1] The four mental states are paraphrased for simplicity. Section 300 provides that culpable homicide is murder where: (a) if the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death; (b) if it is done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as the offender knows to be likely to cause the death of the person to whom the harm is caused; (c) if it is done with the intention of causing bodily injury to any person, and the bodily injury intended to be inflicted is sufficient in the ordinary course of nature to cause death; or (d) if the person committing the act knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death, or such bodily injury as is likely to cause death, and commits such act without any excuse for incurring the risk of causing death, or such injury as aforesaid.


Last updated on 27 Feb 2017