Obstructing, preventing or defeating

course of justice (Evasion)

1. What is the legal definition of evading police officers?

There is no legal definition for evading police officers. Rather the word “evade” is incorporated into various statutory provisions and it should be taken to be its ordinary meanning in the context of the respective provisions.

The most common based on precedent is evading road blocks by Police.

Nevertheless, there are statutory provisions that addresses evasion of police officers (e.g. CPC, Immigration Act, and Penal Code).

 

Section 75(2), Criminal Procedure Code

How to arrest
75.

(1)  In making an arrest, the police officer or other person must touch or confine the body of the person to be arrested unless he submits to arrest by word or action.
(2)  If the person forcibly resists or tries to evade arrest, the police officer or other person may use all reasonable means necessary to make the arrest.

Section 57(1)(d), Immigration Act

Offences

57.—(1)  Any person who —
(d) harbours a person —
(i) whom the defendant knows has acted in contravention of the provisions of this Act or the regulations;
(ii) with reckless disregard as to whether he has acted in contravention of the provisions of this Act or the regulations; or
(iii) negligently failing to ascertain as to whether he has acted in contravention of the provisions of this Act or the regulations;

 

Interpretation

2.—(1)  In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“harbour” means to give food or shelter, and includes the act of assisting a person in any way to evade apprehension;

Public Prosecutor v Mahfud bin Ahmed

[2006] SGDC 133 (at [102]):

“102      Section 57(1)(d)(ii) of the Immigration Act (Cap 133) provides that any person who harbours another person, with reckless disregard as to whether the latter has acted in contravention of the provisions of the Immigration Act or the regulations, shall be guilty of an offence. Section 2 of the Immigration Act defines “harbour” to mean to give food or shelter, and it includes the act of assisting a person in any way to evade apprehension. Giving “shelter” means providing some form of habitation to the illegal immigrant or overstayer (Lee Boon Leng Joseph v PP [1997] 1 SLR 445and Lim Dee Chew v PP [1997] 3 SLR 956).”

 

Section 212, Penal Code

Harbouring an offender

 

212.  Whenever an offence has been committed, whoever harbours or conceals a person whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the offender, with the intention of screening him from legal punishment, shall, if the offence is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment which may extend to 20 years, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year and not to 20 years, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one-fourth part of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence, or with fine, or with both.
In this section “offence” includes any act committed at any place out of Singapore which if committed in Singapore would be punishable under any of the following sections, namely, 302, 304, 382, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 399, 402, 435, 436, 449, 450, 459 and 460, and every such act shall for the purposes of this section be deemed to be punishable as if the accused person had been guilty of it in Singapore.

“Harbour”

216B.  In sections 212, 216 and 216A, “harbour” includes the supplying a person with shelter, food, drink, money, clothes, arms, ammunition, or means of conveyance, or the assisting a person in any way to evade apprehension.

 

2. What are the examples of the definition?

Evading Police Road Blocks – Public Prosecutor v Syed Mohammad Najib Bin Syed Ali Alkaff [2010] SGDC 358 (at [13]):

 

“Statement of Facts

7       The Accused admitted to the Statement of Facts (Exhibit ‘PS1’) pertaining to the charges, without qualification. He was therefore convicted on the charges accordingly. The salient points are as follows:

Road Traffic offences committed on 16 Aug 09 (DACs 61548-61552/2009)

(h)    On 16 Aug 09, at about 1.25am, the complainant, one Sgt Mohd Suryadi Mohamed Said, spotted the accused driving along Jalan Bukit Merah towards Queensway, flagged him down and ordered him to stop for a spot check. Instead of complying, the accused accelerated towards the complainant who had to jump to his left to avoid the accused’s motor car. At the time, one female Malay, namely Sasha Bte Abdul Rahman (hereinafter referred to as “Sasha”), was seated in the front passenger seat next to the accused.

(i)    In order to avoid being apprehended by the complainant, the accused sped off and drove in a dangerous manner, where he failed to conform to traffic red light signals at two junctions, which caused a lorry and motor vehicles to jam their brakes respectively to avoid a collision with the accused’s car on both respective occasions.”

“Prosecution’s submission

13     The prosecution highlighted the following aggravating factors:
a)     That the accused was driving in a dangerous manner whereupon he even swapped seats with the front passenger while the car was still in motion;
b)     The accused was evading police arrest (on both occasions) which resulted in the dangerous driving;
c)     The accused had also been driving whilst under the influence of drugs, thereby putting road users at risk of potential harm;
d)     The accused had also committed the additional offences on 16 Aug 09 while he was on court bail for the earlier offences which showed his blatant disregard of the law and his recalcitrance, in which case, lenient sentences are not to be expected as the accused is in need of correction.”

 

​3. Evading police officers; is this a crime? Why?

In the case of road barriers by the Police, it prevents the police from maintaining and preserving law and order or to prevent or detection of crime under section 26(1) of the Police Force Act:

26.—(1)  Notwithstanding any other law in force in Singapore, any police officer may, if he considers it necessary to do so for the maintenance and preservation of law and order or for the prevention or detection of crime —

(a) erect or place barriers in or across any public road or street or in any public place in such manner as he may think fit; and

(b) take all reasonable steps to prevent any vehicle being driven or ridden past any such barrier.

Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Yusree bin Mohamed Yatim [2018] SGDC 186 (at [40]-[41]):

“(h)   Failing to comply with the signal of a Police officer – DAC 936463-2017

40     The Prosecution noted that there were no reported judgments dealing with an offence under Section 26(2) of the Police Force Act. In any case, the Prosecution submitted that a custodial sentence is warranted, for the following reasons:
(i)     The accused’s defiance of Police authority is exceptional. He drove through the barriers in an attempt to evade arrest for various other offences. He had thereafter led the police on a high-speed chase.
(ii)     The accused committed the offence whilst on bail, thereby demonstrating further contempt for law and order.

41     I accepted the above submission by the Prosecution. A custodial sentence was warranted on the facts of this case. The accused was almost acting like a stunt man in a movie getaway car chase without any regard for the safety of the Police officers manning the road block barrier.”

4. What are the factors which have to be established before one is convicted of this crime?

In the case of road blocks, there must be the act of driving in such a manner as to avoid the police barrier – Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Yusree bin Mohamed Yatim [2018] SGDC 186 (at [40]-[41]):

“(h)   Failing to comply with the signal of a Police officer – DAC 936463-2017

40     The Prosecution noted that there were no reported judgments dealing with an offence under Section 26(2) of the Police Force Act. In any case, the Prosecution submitted that a custodial sentence is warranted, for the following reasons:
(i)     The accused’s defiance of Police authority is exceptional. He drove through the barriers in an attempt to evade arrest for various other offences. He had thereafter led the police on a high-speed chase.
(ii)     The accused committed the offence whilst on bail, thereby demonstrating further contempt for law and order.

41     I accepted the above submission by the Prosecution. A custodial sentence was warranted on the facts of this case. The accused was almost acting like a stunt man in a movie getaway car chase without any regard for the safety of the Police officers manning the road block barrier.”

5. What are the possible defences of evading police officers?

There are generally no defences based on precedent.

However, a possible defence is section 79 of the Penal Code:

Act done by person by mistake of fact believing himself bound or justified by law

79.—(1)  Unless otherwise provided by written law, nothing is an offence which is done by any person who by reason of a mistake of fact or in ignorance of a fact in good faith believes himself to be bound by law to do it or justified by law in doing it.


(2)  Despite subsection (1), when a mistake of fact or ignorance of a fact negates the fault element required to establish liability under an offence, then to avoid doubt, that offence is not made out.


    Explanation.—Where the physical and fault elements of an offence are proven, and the accused person proves the defence under subsection (1), the accused person is not guilty of that offence.

The Singapore High Court explained section 79 of the Penal Code in Public Prosecutor v Pram Nair [2016] 4 SLR 880; [2016] SGHC 136 (at [146]):

“Section 79 Penal Code

146    As mentioned, the Defence also relied on s 79 of the Penal Code which excuses a person from an act which may constitute an offence if the act was done by that person under a mistake of fact, in good faith, believing himself to be justified by law in doing it. This reliance is misplaced. It is premised on the accused’s evidence about the mutual sexual foreplay, which I have rejected.”

 

6. What are the measures that one should consider when charged with this crime?

Quickly find a lawyer so that the lawyer can assist in determining how to mitigate the offence you have committed since you have already committed the offence of evading the police.

 

7. What is the penalty for evading police officers?

In the case of road barriers by the Police, it prevents the police from maintaining and preserving law and order or to prevent or detection of crime under section 26(1) of the Police Force Act:

26.—(1)  Notwithstanding any other law in force in Singapore, any police officer may, if he considers it necessary to do so for the maintenance and preservation of law and order or for the prevention or detection of crime —

(a) erect or place barriers in or across any public road or street or in any public place in such manner as he may think fit; and

(b) take all reasonable steps to prevent any vehicle being driven or ridden past any such barrier.

In the case of section 57(1)(d) of the Immigration Act, the punishment are as follows under section 57(1)(iv) to 57(1)(v):

(iv) in the case of an offence under paragraph (d)(i) or (ii), shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment for a presumptive minimum term of not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years and shall also be liable to a fine not exceeding $6,000;
[Act 15 of 2019 wef 01/01/2020]

(v) in the case of an offence under paragraph (d)(iii), shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $6,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to both; 

    • What is the legal definition of evading police officers?

    • What are the examples of the definition?

    • Evading police officers; is this a crime? Why?

    • What are the factors which have to be established before one is convicted of this crime?

  1. What are the possible defences of evading police officers?

    • What are the measures that one should consider when charged with this crime?

    • What is the penalty for evading police officers?