Criminal Legal Aid scheme to be expanded

Criminal Legal Aid scheme to be expanded

More people accused of noncapital offences will benefit from Government-funded aid, Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced Saturday.

The existing Criminal Legal Aid Scheme will be expanded to include a four-tier scheme that ranges from providing information to making full legal representation in court for some.

Currently, only offences under 15 statutes, such as the Penal Code and Misuse of Drugs Act, are covered.

Under the first tier of the enhanced scheme, all 12,000 people accused of crimes each year will be provided with an awareness of the channels available for advice, help and representation.

The second tier will provide basic legal advice for those charged with crimes that may lead to jail terms.

The third tier concerns help with matters not involving court attendance by a lawyer, such as the preparation of mitigation pleas or the drafting of defence cases.

Up to 1,000 could benefit from full legal representation under the fourth tier.

An independent steering committee will be set up to oversee policies governing disbursement of the funds.

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