Prosecution of Offenses – Cases Doctrines

Criminal Procedure

Criminal Procedure

Macasaet vs People (453 SCRA 255)

  • In criminal actions, it is a fundamental rule that venue is jurisdictional.  Thus, the place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction.
  • The possible venues for the institution of the criminal and the civil aspects of said case are concisely outlined in Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4363.
  • In Agbayani v. Sayo, we summarized the foregoing rule in the following manner:
    • 1. Whether the offended party is a public official or a private person, the criminal action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published.
    • 2. If the offended party is a private individual, the criminal action may also be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province where he actually resided at the time of the commission of the offense.
    • 3. If the offended party is a public officer whose office is in Manila at the time of the commission of the offense, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila.
    • 4. If the offended party is a public officer holding office outside of Manila, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense.
  • It is jurisprudentially settled that jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information. In resolving a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction, the general rule is that the facts contained in the complaint or information should be taken as they are. The exception to this rule is where the Rules of Court allow the investigation of facts alleged in a motion to quash such as when the ground invoked is the extinction of criminal liability, prescriptions, double jeopardy, or insanity of the accused. In these instances, it is incumbent upon the trial court to conduct a preliminary trial to determine the merit of the motion to dismiss.  As the present case obviously does not fall within any of the recognized exceptions, the trial court correctly dismissed this action.
  • The OSG is the appellate counsel of the People of the Philippines in all criminal cases.  In such capacity, it only takes over a criminal case after the same has reached the appellate courts.
  • When a party files a notice of appeal, the trial court’s jurisdiction over the case does not cease as a matter of course; its only effect is that the appeal is deemed perfected as to him. As explained by our former colleague, Justice Florenz Regalado –  . . [I]n the meantime, the trial court still retains jurisdiction over the case.  However, where all the parties have either thus perfected their appeals, by filing their notices of appeal in due time and the period to file such notice of appeal has lapsed for those who did not do so, then the trial court loses jurisdiction over the case as of the filing of the last notice of appeal or the expiration of the period to do so for all the parties.

Agustin vs Pamintuan (467 SCRA 601)

  • Venue in criminal cases is an essential element of jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or Information, and the offense must have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
  • The rules on venue in Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code are as follows:
    • 1. Whether the offended party is a public official or a private person, the criminal action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published.
    • 2. If the offended party is a private individual, the criminal action may also be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province where he actually resided at the time of the commission of the offense.
    • 3. If the offended party is a public officer whose office is in Manila at the time of the commission of the offense, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila.
    • 4. If the offended party is a public officer holding office outside of Manila, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense.
  • The residence of a person is his personal, actual or physical habitation or his actual residence or place of abode provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency; no particular length of time of residence is required.  However, the residence must be more than temporary. The term residence involves the idea of something beyond a transient stay in the place; and to be a resident, one must abide in a place where he had a house therein.  To create a residence in a particular place, two fundamental elements are essential:  The actual bodily presence in the place, combined with a freely exercised intention of remaining there permanently or for an indefinite time. While it is possible that as the Acting General Manager of the Baguio Country Club, the petitioner may have been actually residing in Baguio City, the Informations did not state that he was actually residing therein when the alleged crimes were committed.  It is entirely possible that the private complainant may have been actually residing in another place.  One who transacts business in a place and spends considerable time thereat does not render such person a resident therein. Where one may have or own a business does not of itself constitute residence within the meaning of the statute.  Pursuit of business in a place is not conclusive of residence there for purposes of venue.

Mobilia Products Inc vs Umezawa (452 SCRA 736)

  • All criminal actions commenced by complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the public prosecutor. When the civil action for civil liability is instituted in the criminal action pursuant to Rule 111 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the offended party may intervene, by counsel, in the prosecution of the offense. In Ramiscal, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, we held that under Section 16, Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the offended party may intervene in the criminal action personally or by counsel, who will then act as private prosecutor for the protection of his interests and in the interest of the speedy and inexpensive administration of justice.  A separate action for the purpose would only prove to be costly, burdensome and time-consuming for both parties and further delay the final disposition of the case.  The multiplicity of suits must be avoided. With the implied institution of the civil action in the criminal action, the two actions are merged into one composite proceeding, with the criminal action predominating the civil.  The prime purpose of the criminal action is to punish the offender in order to deter him and others from committing the same or similar offense, to isolate him from society, reform and rehabilitate him or, in general, to maintain social order.
  • The intervention of the private offended party, through counsel, and his prosecution of the case shall be under the control and supervision of the public prosecutor until the final termination of the case.  A public prosecutor who has been entrusted by law with the prosecution of criminal cases is duty-bound to take charge thereof until its final termination, for under the law, he assumes full responsibility for his failure or success since he is the one more adequately prepared to pursue it to its termination. The prosecution of offenses is a public function.  Indeed, the sole purpose of the civil action is the resolution, reparation or indemnification of the private offended party for the damage or injury he sustained by reason of the delictual or felonious act of the accused.
  • The public prosecutor may turn over the actual prosecution of the criminal case, in the exercise of his discretion, but he may, at any time, take over the actual conduct of the trial.  However, it is necessary that the public prosecutor be present at the trial until the final termination of the case; otherwise, if he is absent, it cannot be gainsaid that the trial is under his supervision and control.
  • In a criminal case in which the offended party is the State, the interest of the private complainant or the offended party is limited to the civil liability arising therefrom.  Hence, if a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, a reconsideration of the order of dismissal or acquittal may be undertaken, whenever legally feasible, insofar as the criminal aspect thereof is concerned and may be made only by the public prosecutor; or in the case of an appeal, by the State only, through the OSG.  The private complainant or offended party may not undertake such motion for reconsideration or appeal on the criminal aspect of the case. However, the offended party or private complainant may file a motion for reconsideration of such dismissal or acquittal or appeal therefrom but only insofar as the civil aspect thereof is concerned. In so doing, the private complainant or offended party need not secure the conformity of the public prosecutor.  If the court denies his motion for reconsideration, the private complainant or offended party may appeal or file a petition for certiorari or mandamus, if grave abuse amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction is shown and the aggrieved party has no right of appeal or given an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.
  • It is settled that the jurisdiction of the court is not determined by what may be meted out to the offender after trial or even by the result of the evidence that would be presented at the trial, but by the extent of the penalty which the law imposes for the misdemeanor, crime or violation charged in the complaint. If the facts recited in the complaint and the punishment provided for by law are sufficient to show that the court in which the complaint is presented has jurisdiction, that court must assume jurisdiction.

Crespo vs Mogul (151 SCRA 462)

  • The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information is filed in Court any disposition of the case as its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the Court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution of criminal cases even while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his opinion on the trial court. The Court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case before it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence. A motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be addressed to the Court who has the option to grant or deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation.
  • The role of the fiscal or prosecutor as We all know is to see that justice is done and not necessarily to secure the conviction of the person accused before the Courts. Thus, in spite of his opinion to the contrary, it is the duty of the fiscal to proceed with the presentation of evidence of the prosecution to the Court to enable the Court to arrive at its own independent judgment as to whether the accused should be convicted or acquitted. The fiscal should not shirk from the responsibility of appearing for the People of the Philippines even under such circumstances much less should he abandon the prosecution of the case leaving it to the hands of a private prosecutor for then the entire proceedings will be null and void. 37 The least that the fiscal should do is to continue to appear for the prosecution although he may turn over the presentation of the evidence to the private prosecutor but still under his direction and control.

Pecho vs People (262 SCRA 518)

  • For double jeopardy to exist, there must be such new information and the accused must be able to show that (1) he has been previously brought to trial, (2) in a court of competent jurisdiction, (3) upon a valid complaint or information sufficient in form and substance, (4) for the same offense or an attempt to or frustration thereof as that charged in the new information, and that (5) the case has been dismissed or terminated without his consent or after he had pleaded to the information but therefore judgment was rendered.
  • The evidence for the prosecution likewise failed to prove that the petitioner (1) personally represented himself as an agent of Eversun Commercial Trading; (2) knew of the falsity of any of the public and commercial documents in question; and (3) had, at any time, possession of all or some of the said documents.
  • Otherwise stated, there is no sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove conspiracy between the petitioner and Catre to commit the complex crime of estafa through falsification of public and commercial documents. Neither is there evidence of petitioner’s active participation in the commission of the crime. The con-cordant combination and cumulative effect of the acts of the petitioner as proven by the prosecution’s evidence fails to satisfy the requirements of Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of court. There is reasonable doubt as to his guilt. And since his constitutional right to be presumed innocent unit proven guilty can be over-thrown only by proof beyond reasonable doubt, the petitioner must then be acquitted even though his innocence may be doubted.

People vs Ave GR 137274-75 Oct 18, 2008

  • The penalty for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659,[51] is reclusion perpetua to death while the penalty prescribed for aggravated illegal possession of firearm, i.e., the killing of a person with the use of an unlicensed firearm, under P.D. No. 1866, is death.
  • On June 6, 1997, however, Congress approved Republic Act No. 8294. It provides that “if homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.”[54] In People v. Molina,[55] we held that “where murder or homicide is committed, the separate penalty for illegal possession shall no longer be meted out inasmuch as it becomes merely a special aggravating circumstance.”
  • The trial court applied R.A. No. 8294 in the murder case at bar and in line with our ruling in Molina held that the use of the unlicensed firearm in the killing of Pedro aggravated the commission of the crime. He then meted the maximum penalty of death to the appellant.
  • After Molina, however, the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure was promulgated by this Court and became effective on December 1, 2000. Section 8 of Rule 110 requires that the complaint or information must specify the qualifying and aggravating circumstances of the offense if they are to be appreciated. In the case at bar, the special aggravating circumstance of “use of unlicensed firearm” was not alleged in the informations. The two (2) informations at bar, for murder and frustrated murder, merely alleged that the appellant used a “long firearm.” They did not allege that the firearm used was unlicensed. The failure of the prosecution to allege in the Information the aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearm in committing the crime of murder prevents us from imposing the death penalty on the appellant even if the same was proved at the trial. The appellant should, therefore, suffer the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua.

People vs Costales, et al, GR 141154-56, Jan 15, 2002

  • On the third issue, accused-appellant decries the Decision of the court a quo in qualifying the crimes of murder and attempted murder with illegal possession of firearm and at the same time convicting him for violation of PD 1866, as amended.
  • We agree. Although the prosecution duly established that the crime of illegal possession of firearm under PD 1866 was committed, RA 8294, which took effect 7 July 1997, amended the decree and now considers the use of unlicensed firearm as a special aggravating circumstance in murder and homicide, and not as a separate offense.
  • As it should be, possession and use of firearm without license should aggravate the crimes of murder and frustrated murder as herein charged but, fortunately for accused-appellant, Secs. 8 and 9 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which took effect 1 December 2000, now require the qualifying as well as aggravating circumstances to be expressly and specifically alleged in the complaint or information, otherwise the same will not be considered by the court even if proved during the trial. Withal, in the absence of any allegation in the Information in Crim. Case No. T-2057 that accused-appellant committed murder with the use of unlicensed firearm, the same cannot be appreciated in imposing the proper penalty.
  • Concededly, the prosecution witnesses gave almost uniform observations on how the malefactors carried out their detestable crimes, i.e., the identity of the assailants, that Miguel was strangled by both intruders and almost simultaneously shot on the head, that one of them sprayed a chemical on the other occupants of the house and after a split second fired at Crispina. Such consistency and uniformity may be irregular at first blush, but accused-appellant failed to take into account the following factors which account for the “near flawless” statements of the prosecution witnesses: (a) the one-room shanty was very small with no substantial obstruction to impede the vision of the occupants; (b) the room was lighted by a kerosene lamp sufficient enough for the occupants to recognize accused-appellant and his cohort, especially so since the assailants were prominent and venerated leaders of their church; and, (c) at the time of the incident the Marcelo spouses and their children were lying very near each other because of the very limited space of their shanty such that every perceived action could be seen, felt, or at least sensed, by all of them.
  • In Crim. Case No. T-2056, accused-appellant was charged by the trial court with frustrated murder but was convicted only for attempted murder. In its Decision, the trial court explained that the failure of the prosecution to present a medical certificate or competent testimonial evidence showing that Crispina would have died from her wound without medical intervention, justified the accused’s conviction for attempted murder only.
  • We call to mind People v. De La Cruz11 where this Court ruled that the crime committed for the shooting of the victim was attempted murder and not frustrated murder for the reason that “his injuries, though no doubt serious, were not proved fatal such that without timely medical intervention, they would have caused his death.” In fact, as early as People v. Zaragosa,[12] we enunciated the doctrine that where there is nothing in the evidence to show that the wound would be fatal if not medically attended to, the character of the wound is doubtful; hence, the doubt should be resolved in favor of the accused and the crime committed by him may be declared as attempted, not frustrated murder.

People vs Villar GR 132378 Jan 18, 2000

  • We find no competent evidence showing that the victim exhibited no unusual behavior during the one-year period that she was being sexually abused by accused-appellant. The lack of concrete evidence of any unusual behavior on record does not prove that there was in fact no such unusual behavior. If accused-appellant wanted the court to consider such an allegation, it was incumbent upon him to prove the same with competent evidence. The fundamental rule is that upon him who alleges rests the burden of proof. He cannot simply rely on the lack of evidence showing the contrary.
  • The commission of rape was concededly “improbable but not impossible. In People vs. Ignacio, we took judicial notice of the interesting fact that among poor couples with big families living in small quarters, copulation does not seem a problem despite the presence of other persons around them. Considering the cramped space and meager room for privacy, couples perhaps have gotten used to quick and less disturbing modes of sexual congresses which elude the attention of family members; otherwise, under the circumstances, it would be almost impossible to copulate with them around even when asleep. It is also not impossible nor incredible for the family members to be in deep slumber and not be awakened while the sexual assault is being committed. One may also suppose that growing children sleep more soundly than grown-ups and are not easily awakened by adult exertions and suspirations in the night. There is no merit in appellant’s contention that there can be no rape in a room where other people are present. There is no rule that rape can be committed only in seclusion. We have repeatedly declared that “lust is no respecter of time and place,” and rape can be committed in even the unlikeliest of places.
  • In People vs. Dela Cuesta (G.R. No. 126134, March 2, 1999), we held: The seven modes of committing rape introduced under R.A. 7659 and R.A. 4111 which warrant the automatic imposition of death penalty partake of the nature of a qualifying circumstance under the Revised Penal Code since it increases the penalty or rape to one degree. As such, this qualifying circumstance, that the child is under eighteen (18) and the offender is a guardian, should be alleged in the information to be appreciated as such.
  • Although the circumstances to qualify simple rape to the heinous crime of rape, namely: (a) victim under 18 years old (the certificate of live birth – exhibit “A” was admitted by the defense), and (b) the offender being a guardian, were duly proven in the present case, these circumstance cannot considered for purposes of imposing the extreme penalty of death unless these were alleged in the information. An examination of the two informations in the present case reveals that only the qualifying circumstance that the child is under 12 was alleged. There was no allegation that the offender was a guardian of the victim. To consider said circumstance as qualifying, would constitute denial of the right of accused-appellant to due process and to be informed of the charges against him. At best, such circumstance may only be treated as a generic aggravating circumstance, which, in the case of simple statutory rape, however, is inconsequential because the imposable penalty is the singular indivisible penalty of reclusion perpetua.

People vs Camerino 108 Phil 79

  • Under section 2 of this Rule, the Court may deny or sustain the motion to quash but may not defer it till the trial of the case on the merits. In sustaining the motion, the court may order the filing of a new information or may dismiss the case. In the new information, the defects of the previous information may be cured. For instance, if the motion to quash is sustained on the ground that more than one offense is charged in the information, the court may order that another information be filed charging only one offense. But the court may or may not issue such order in the exercise of its discretion. The order may be made if the defects found in the first information may be cured in a new information. If the order is made, the accused, if he is in custody, should not be discharged, unless otherwise, admitted to bail. But if no such order is made, or, having been made, the prosecuting attorney fails to file another information within the time specified by the court, the accused, if in custody must be discharged, unless he is also in custody for another charge, or if is out on bail, the bail must be exonerated. In such event, however, the fiscal is free to institute another criminal proceeding since such ground of objection is not a bar to another prosecution for the same offense. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1957 ed., Vol. II, pp. 778-779).
  • In conclusion, we hold that the information filed in this case did not charged more than one offense but only that of sedition; that in specifying the separate and different criminal acts attributed to the defendants, it was not the purpose or intention of the Government to hold them criminally liable in the present proceedings, but merely to complete the narration of facts, though specifying different offenses which as a whole, supposedly constitute the crime of sedition. Consequently, we believe that the information is valid.

4 responses to “Prosecution of Offenses – Cases Doctrines

  1. Pingback: Rule 110 – Prosecution of Offenses (COMPILATION) | Legal Notes·

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