Convicting secondary offenders of money laundering: Yap Chen Hsiang Osborn v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 40

In Yap Chen Hsiang Osborn v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 40, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) clarified that section 47(1) of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Cap 65A, 2000 Rev Ed) (“CDSA”), which essentially makes it an offense to launder proceeds which represents one’s (i.e. the offender’s) benefits from criminal conduct, applies only to primary offenders (someone who launders the benefits of his or her own criminal conduct) and not secondary offenders (someone who does not himself or herself commit the offence from which the proceeds were originally derived, but launders the proceeds of another person’s crime).

To plead or not to plead? Qualifying a guilty plea during mitigation: Public Prosecutor v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran [2019] SGCA 27

In Public Prosecutor v Dinesh s/o Rajantheran [2019] SGCA 27, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) answered two questions by the Prosecution, regarding the proper interpretation of section 228(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 2012 Rev Ed) (“CPC”). Under section 228(4), the court “must reject” a party’s guilty plea if it is satisfied that any matter raised in mitigation “materially affects any legal condition” which constitutes the underlying offence.

Sentencing Intellectually Disabled Young Offenders: Public Prosecutor v ASR [2019] SGCA 16

In Public Prosecutor v ASR [2019] SGCA 16, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) discussed the appropriate sentencing approach for a young offender, the respondent, who committed serious crimes, including aggravated rape and sexual assault by penetration on an intellectually disabled young girl, but who was also himself intellectually disabled, with a mental age of between eight and ten. The respondent was 14 years old when he committed the offences in question. When he was convicted in 2017, he was about 16 ½ years old. He was nearly 18 years old at the time of sentencing, in 2018.

The Principle of Fairness in Criminal Trials: Mui Jia Jun v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 59

In Mui Jia Jun v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 59, the Court of Appeal upheld the fundamental principle that an accused person should know with certainty, and thus have a full opportunity to meet, the case advanced against him by the Prosecution. For instance, where the Prosecution advances a composite case comprising several facets, the Prosecution should make it explicit if it is seeking a conviction based on any individual facet.

Presumption vs Proof: Zainal bin Hamad v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 62

In Zainal bin Hamad v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 62, the Court of Appeal clarified the application of the presumptions under sections 17 and 18 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (“MDA”), which relate to a presumption of trafficking (s17); presumption of possession (s18(1)); and presumption of knowledge (s18(2)). Here, the offenders were convicted by the High Court of drug trafficking offences under the MDA; their appeals to the Court of Appeal were based in part on rebutting these presumptions. The Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals for, inter alia, failing to rebut the presumptions.

Adri Anton Kalangie v Public Prosecutor [2018] SGCA 40

When courts issue decisions establishing or clarifying sentencing guidelines, a concern is whether these guidelines should only be applied prospectively (known as “the doctrine of prospective overruling”), and if so what that prospectivity entails. In Adri Anton Kalangie v PP [2018] SGCA 40, the Court of Appeal (“CA”) held that although as a general rule, decisions establishing or clarifying sentencing guidelines will apply both retroactively as well as prospectively, the court laying down the guidelines may, in an exceptional case, state that such guidelines will only come into effect from a specific date. In such a case, the guidelines should apply to all offenders sentenced after the date of the decision, regardless of when they had committed the underlying offence. However, they would not apply to the actual offender in the decision.