Not everyone who is accused of committing an offence is guilty of it. Sometimes, people have clouded judgement or get confused by misleading circumstances and make a wrongful accusation to the police. People make mistakes, and the person making the accusation isn’t in any trouble if they did so in good faith and had good reason to suspect the accused.
However, false accusations are sometimes made with malicious intent, perhaps driven by revenge or a desire for personal gain. Knowingly accusing an innocent person of an offence is a crime and can result in jail time for those found guilty of it. In 2019, a domestic helper was given three weeks’ imprisonment for falsely accusing her employer of rape, while a 2020 case saw a man given the same penalty for fabricating corruption.
Giving false statements to the police
Under section 182 of the Penal Code, it is against the law in Singapore to give a false statement to the police or any public servant, either intending to cause harm or annoyance to another person or knowing that such an outcome is likely. Offenders can be punished with a fine, up to two years’ jail or a combination of both depending on the severity of the offence.
The Penal Code also defines criminal defamation under section 499, which outlaws accusations being made against a person with the intention of causing physical or reputational harm. Defamation may be spoken, written, shared online or implied through imagery, with examples including lying to authorities to implicate an innocent person or spreading false information about someone online. Truthful accusations may still be considered for defamation, though most cases involve false allegations.
There are some exceptions to this area of law, including accusations which are both true and should be made or published for the public good. Certain freedoms are also granted around accusations made in good faith against public servants, though only to accusations relating to their functions as a public servant and not those extending to their private life.
The Penal Code covers several other specific offences related to lying to the authorities. These include tampering with evidence, lying in court, manipulating facts to protect a criminal and lying to specific bodies such as the tax, health and immigration authorities. It is also against the law for migrants to lie when applying for or renewing a work pass. Given the range of crimes defined under the law in Singapore, it’s possible to commit several offences at once.
Help! Someone is making false accusations against me
Being falsely accused of a crime can be highly distressing and you may experience anger, anxiety and other strong emotions. These responses are understandable in the circumstances, particularly when allegations are made by someone close to you and if they involve serious crimes – such as a false accusation of molestation.
However, it’s important to keep a clear head and understand what is considered an offence under the law. In order to take any legal action, the statement must be:
- Made using your name, photo or likeness, or otherwise clearly point to you as the guilty party
- Published, communicated to a third party or otherwise made known to others
If you have been defamed or still aren’t sure whether you have been the victim of a crime, it’s important to gather evidence and speak with a lawyer. Take screenshots of any text messages and social media posts that are relevant to the incident and try to find any witnesses who may be able to corroborate your claim. You can also seek free legal advice using our online platform, getting a 30-minute consultation with an experienced lawyer at no cost or obligation.