Superior Court: Aggravated traffic offenses may be taken into account in the sentencing of another crime, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Past traffic offenses that have been aggravated – speeding fines or parking tickets, for example – may be taken into account by a court when convicting offenders for other offenses, the Court ruled on Thursday (July 1). highest court in Singapore.

This is not exclusive to traffic violations, but applies to compound violations and sentencing proceedings under any law, wrote Judge Tay Yong Kwang issuing an Appeals Court ruling upholding the ruling. sentence of a truck driver.

Mr. Teo Seng Tiong, 59, was slapped with two counts in 2018 for acting recklessly to endanger the life of cyclist Eric Cheung Hoyu and failing to report after an accident within 24 hours.

The two were filmed during an altercation in Pasir Ris, after Mr. Cheung hit and smashed the truck’s left mirror as Mr. Teo passed him.

Mr. Teo then sharply swerved the truck to the left, knocking Mr. Cheung, then 35, off his bicycle and into the grass beside the road.

Mr. Teo, a fish farmer, has filed for trial and was sentenced in January last year by a district judge to seven weeks in prison, fined $ 500 and banned from driving for two years.

He had numerous compound offenses, which were brought to court as noted by the district judge in his conviction. These include speeding tickets, red lights, not wearing seat belts and parking infractions.

His appeal was dismissed by the High Court in July 2020.

In September last year, Mr. Teo raised a public interest law issue in the appeals court over whether a composition can be used as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing.

The aggravation of an offense makes it possible to settle it by a fine of composition, without the offender having to be condemned in court.

In a judgment handed down Thursday by five judges, including Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, the Court of Appeal said a court may view these compound offenses as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Justice Tay explained that “the composition of an offense is really a hybrid between conviction and acquittal, as it is presumably an admission of guilt when an offer of composition is accepted.”

This has the effect of an acquittal and the alleged offender can no longer be charged with the compound offense, he added.

“The act of reaching a settlement agreement does not necessarily mean admitting responsibility or guilt although that is a real possibility,” the judge said.

“Some offenses are aggravated for the sake of expediency. In the case of traffic offenses, the dialing procedure is used for the effective resolution of less serious traffic violations.”

These compositions can be referred to as part of the past conduct if the person is subsequently charged and convicted in another case.

Justice Tay said there was no double jeopardy issue as the person would no longer be charged for these aggravated past offenses.

“While the alleged offender can no longer be charged for the compound offense, this does not mean that the composition can never again be brought up in court as part of the past conduct of that alleged offender in the event that he is charged. and condemned in some other issue thereafter. “

Mr. Cheung pleaded guilty to committing mischief and causing obstruction by riding his bicycle in the middle of the lane instead of the left-most side, and was fined $ 2,800 in April 2019.

Mr Teo also made headlines in September last year as he was wrongfully kept in jail for two more days due to an administrative error by state courts. He was then compensated.

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