The Public Defender’s Office provides legal representation to individuals who cannot afford to engage a lawyer and are charged with most types of criminal offences.
You may refer to the video below for a walkthrough of the application process and eligibility criteria for criminal defence aid with the Public Defender's Office.
How can I get help from the Public Defender’s Office?
The Public Defender’s Office will assess applications for criminal defence aid, including conducting a means test to assess the financial circumstances and merits test to assess whether there are reasonable grounds of the case. Eligible applications would be granted criminal defence aid and assigned to a Public Defender, who will then represent the accused person.
Eligible applications may also be referred to the Pro Bono SG, and a volunteer private lawyer would be assigned to represent the accused person.
An eligible accused person will not get to choose between the Public Defender or a volunteer private lawyer.
What type of criminal proceedings are not handled by the Public Defender’s Office?
The Public Defender's Office will not handle criminal proceedings relating to:
a. Offences punishable by death;
b. Offences that are regulatory in nature (for e.g., traffic summons) and departmental charges;
c. Offences under 10 Acts relating to gambling, organised and syndicate crime, and terrorism;
d. Offences prosecuted by private person
The Schedule under the Public Defender’s Act 2022 sets out the (click here) list of excluded offences and excluded class of offences.
Excluded offences that are under 10 Acts relating to gambling, organised and syndicate crime, and terrorism is defined as offences under the following 10 Acts:
Betting Act 1960
Casino Control Act 2006
Common Gaming Houses Act 1961
Gambling Control Act 2022
Massage Establishments Act 2017
Organised Crime Act 2015
Remote Gambling Act 2014
Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act 2007
Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act 2002
Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material) Act 2017
Excluded offences that are regulatory in nature is defined where the individual was served with a Notice to Attend Court or issued a summons (i) by an officer of a statutory body, or (ii) under any of the following 36 Acts:
Advance Medical Directive Act 1996
Child Development Co-Savings Act 2001
Customs Act 1960
Employment Act 1968
Employment Agencies Act 1958
Employment Claims Act 2016
Employment of Foreign Manpower Act 1990
Enlistment Act 1970
Fire Safety Act 1993
Foreign Employee Dormitories Act 2015
Goods and Services Tax Act 1993
Health Products Act 2007
Health Promotion Board Act 2001
Health Sciences Authority Act 2001
Immigration Act 1959
Infectious Diseases Act 1976
Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018
Medical and Elderly Care Endowment Schemes Act 2000
Medicines (Advertisement and Sale) Act 1955
Medicines Act 1975
Moneylenders Act 2008
National Registration Act 1965
Passports Act 2007
Personal Data Protection Act 2012
Poisons Act 1938
Registration of Births and Deaths Act 2021
Regulation of Imports and Exports Act 1995
Retirement and Re-employment Act 1993
Road Traffic Act 1961
Sale of Drugs Act 1914
Singapore Armed Forces Act 1972
Termination of Pregnancy Act 1974
Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act 1993
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act 2000