Criminal Law

What are Community Based Sentences?

By 14 January 2022 No Comments

Community Based Sentences (CBS) are sentencing options that emphasise rehabilitation over punishment. In essence, such sentences are generally available to first-time offenders above 16 years old who have been charged with offences for which the maximum punishment is not more than three years’ imprisonment.

If a community sentence is imposed on you, your criminal conviction will be rendered spent after you have completed the community sentence. You will then be deemed to have no record of that conviction.

The common types of Community Based Sentences imposed are as follows:

  1. Mandatory Treatment order (MTO)
  2. Day reporting order (DRO)
  3. Community service order (CSO)
  4. Short Detention order (SDO)

MTO is an order where offenders will undergo psychiatric treatment at a psychiatric or medical institution, i.e. the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), for up to 36 months. This sentence is generally appropriate for offenders who suffer from treatable psychiatric conditions which is assessed to have contributed to the commission of the offence.

DRO is an order where offenders report to a day reporting centre to be monitored and undergo counselling as well as other rehabilitation programmes. This is administered by the Singapore Prison Service and spans across a period of between three and 12 months.

CSO requires the offender to perform community service to make reparations to the wider society under the supervision of an authorised officer.

SDO refers to a short prison stint of no more than 14 days. The main difference between a SDO and an imprisonment term is that completing the SDO will automatically result in your sentence being rendered spent, and you will have no criminal record thereafter.

The Court may impose one or more of the abovementioned community orders in relation to the same offence.

For most CBS, the Court will call for a suitability report to determine the offender’s suitability for the community order in question. The Court would then determine whether the community order(s) should be imposed. Even if the offender is found to be suitable for a community order, the decision whether to impose such an order remains in the Judge’s discretion.

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