Assignment on Criminal Law

Published: 2021/11/30
Number of words: 2019


The purpose of this work is to examine the right of private defense against another person who imposes an assault or harm to the defender or another innocent person. The work examines when it is acceptable for a defender to legally exercise the right of self-defense against a party who imposes harm or deadly assault on another victim. Sangero, (2006) the right of private defense is used during occasions when there is no other safe way to avoid an attack from another person who imposes physical harm to others Section 100 of the Penal Code. The work will also explore the reasonable belief, which draws people to draw preventive measures against other parties perceived to impose harm. The court has several ways to identify proof and analyze the situation in the context of private defense to know if the defendant intentionally acted to murder or culpable homicide.

There are several past cases that will be examined to explore how people use private defense and the way the court makes a decision from the act of self-defense. Using some previous court cases, I will explore some of the acts of private defense from the reasonable belief perspective of some people. Private defense is a right of a person according to Chapter IV of the Penal Code, section 97(a) of the Penal Code of Singapore, and Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. There are several ways the court evaluates the actions of a defender to determine whether it was a murder or an act of self-defense. Actions of a defendant such as violence, force, provocation of another person, bad perception of another person, and anger can result in bad private defense. The court examines each case related to private defense to identify the person who caused the problem.

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Limitations and right of Self Defense

There are limitations on the use of self-defense, firstly, when the harm to the defendant has been resolved, there is no right to use self-defense against the person. This means that when the attacker changes his mind and stops his behavior, the defendant has no right to cause harm to the plaintiff. This ensures that the defendant does not cause harm to the other party even when there is no more threat or harm to the defendant (Gaggioli, 2017). The resolution can be in a form of change in attitude through advice, mediator, among others. Also, the defendant has no right to use harsh threat or assault to defuse the threat of the plaintiff. The defendant is not legally obliged to use a very harmful action like killing or causing harm to the plaintiff in the notion of defusing the threat. When the defendant uses high force to cause harm against the plaintiff, the court will blame the defendant for the harm caused to the plaintiff.

Also, the defendant has no right to harm an innocent party during the act of self-defense, for instance, when a defendant uses a son of the plaintiff as a shield and hurts the son in the process, the defendant will be charged liable for his action against the child.

Gaggioli, (2017) the right of self-defense will come into play when there is an unprovoked attack on an innocent person, the act should be threatening with proof of causing death or injury to the innocent party, the force of defense should be approximately proportional to that of the plaintiff, and the defendant should have a reasonable belief of being harmed or killed by the plaintiff in order to act in self-defense (Simons, 2018).

The right to self-defense has made people act cruelly against others who may not actually impose harm or any form of danger to an innocent person. People misuse the right of self-defense to cause murder to others. There are some cases that showed how innocent people are murdered by people who acted in regards to self-defense. Self-defense has also made people confident to protect themselves against any form of harm. The right to self-defense has been able to instill confidence in people during any dangerous situations and in escaping from danger or attacks.

Burden and Standard of Proof

The burden of proof and standard of proof is used during the actual case in court, the burden of proof which is the sufficient evidence to support the action of a defendant can be used to prove the action of a defendant beyond any reasonable doubt (Gabriel, 2013). The defendant will provide proof for acting against a plaintiff in order to satisfy the standard. The standard of the burden of proof is to prove the case against the defendant. The jury seeks to prove the case against the defendant, they examine the various evidence to make a decision. The burden can be a good arguable case when there is enough evidence to prove the right of acting on self-defense against a plaintiff. The defendant’s claim should meet the requirements that permit the use of private defense against another person. When the defendant is not able to provide tangible evidence, the jury will make a decision against the action of the defendant.

Case Study 1

Tan Chor Jin v Public Prosecutor (2008) 4 SLR 306


The case of Tan Chor Jin v Public Prosecutor (2008) 4 SLR 306 was related to defense in relation to intoxication and self-defense. Tan went into an illegal bet agreement with the victim called Lim led to the killing of Lim. Tan stated that Lim owed him a sum of RM500,000 and was not willing to pay the money. Tan created a false belief from the statement of Lim and led him to acquire a Beretta handgun in the notion of defending himself. Tan was sent to Lim’s home by his friends after drinking with them at night on the 15th of February, in the year 2006, Lim did not allow Tan to enter the house, Tan came back the next morning with his gun and a knife. Tan entered the room and held Lim and the other members of the house captive. Tan confronted Lim and shot him to death. Tan argued that Lim attacked first before shooting in regards to self-defense (Prabakaran & Amir, 2017).


Tan rejected the decision of the court and started to use his right of self-defense to kill Lim. The action of Tan in the possession of a gun and a knife shows his intentions to harm Lim. The judge rejected the defenses of intoxication in the action of Tan, the judge also rejected the claim of defense and the right of self-defense of Tan’s actions. The judge charged Tan as guilty for the use of ammunition to cause harm to the other party Section 4(1) of the Penal Code and Section 4(2) of Arms Offense Act. The judge sentenced Tan to death. The court focused on the defense of intoxication, self-defense, and right to counsel.


The act of Tan is not a self-defense and is against Section 100 of the Penal Code on the right to defense since there was no intention to cause harm to Tan, every action of Tan shows that he was intending to cause harm to Lin as the victim. Tan has no evidence that Lin was intending to cause harm to him. Lin on the other hand has the right to act in self-defense due to the evidence available. The court used a laydown framework to clarify the situation and denied the claim on the defense of intoxication and self-defense, the insanity of the appellant was not clear as compared to the unsoundness of mind. The appellant was not insane or drunk during his actions against the other party. Moreover, the action of the appellant caused harm to innocent members in the house. This act was against the act of self-defense under Section 100 of the Penal Code.

Case Study 2

Roshdi v Public Prosecutor [1994] SGCA 98


The case of Roshdi v Public Prosecutor is linked to a criminal appeal of an appellant called Roshdi who was a worker in CNB as an informer. The court charged him for the murder of an inspector officer of CNB. The fact was Roshdi killed the officer as a result of a misunderstanding between the two. This was due to the nonpayment of debt from a horse betting activity of the two parties. Roshdi was owing $4,730 to the officer, Roshdi stated that the other party came to his flat insisting on getting the money from him, and led to an assault according to Roshdi. The appellant claimed that he was punched and in the notion of reasonably believe to be killed by the officer, he used a mortar to kill the other party in the act of self-defense (Lee, 1998).


In regards to Section 100 of the Penal Code, the act of right private defense was not identified and the act was not sustained as a right private defense. In view of the evidence, the Judge dismissed the case, stated it as ‘not satisfying in regards to self-defense’. The action was not premeditated and planned, that does not mean the defense should result in the killing of the other party. There was no evidence to show the other party wanted to do more harm than was intended to make the appellant pay back the money. The court identified that the appellant has taken advantage of the situation to do more harm and acted cruelly against the officer.

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The case of Roshdi v Public Prosecutor [1994] SGCA 98 in regards to Section 100 of the Penal Code, the appellant had an opportunity to at least run from the room, hide, or resolve the problem in a safer way, the appellant rather chooses to use the angry and furious way to resolve the problem. The statement of the appellant was not meeting the findings of the medical report, the bruises, marks, and other complaints were not valid as compared to the medical results. This means the appellant was lying and was intended to harming the other party. The act of the appellant to continuously strike the mortar on the officer even when he was dead shows the intention to harm the officer. The court regarded it as cruel action against the officer, the appellant was also sued for his actions according in respect to Section 304 of the Penal Code (Cap 224) and for the unlawful possession of ammunition Section 3(1) of the Arms Offense Act (Cap 14).


The act of self-defense has laid down rules and principles, the action of the plaintiff should project death or harm to the defendant, there should be an unprovoked attack, the defendant reaction should be approximately proportional to the plaintiff, and there should be a reasonable belief of causing death or harm. Tan v Public Prosecutor in 2008, the act of Tan is not accepted as a legal act of self-defense due to the inconsistency with the criteria to use the right of self-defense. There was no proof to back his action against the plaintiff, and the action of the defendant caused harm to innocent people. Also, in the case of Roshdi v Public Prosecutor, the act of Roshdi was not a private defense but an act of cruelty to kill the plaintiff. This is classified as murder but not an act of private defense.


Gabriel, P. (2013). Burden of proof and standard of proof in civil litigation. Singapore Academy of Law Journal, 25(1), 130-181.

Gaggioli, G. (2017). Human rights and personal self-defense in international law. Melborne Journal of International Law, 18, 460-465.

Lee, K. (1998). Moving towards more restrictive approach towards private defence. Singapore Academy of Law Journal, 1(10), 231-240.

Prabakaran, P., & Amir, M. (2017). Criminal Law. Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review of Singapore Cases, 365-414.

Sangero, B. (2006). New defense for self-defense. Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 9(2), 475-560.

Simons, K. W. (2018). Self-Defense, Necessity, and the Duty to Compensate, in Law and Morality. Law Journal, 55, 357-367.

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