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RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED

Alejandro vs. Pepito


Enshrined in our Constitution as a protection to accused persons in criminal cases is the requirement that
no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. That requirement
simply requires that the procedure established by law shall be followed in order of trial in criminal cases,
provides that "the plea of not guilty having been entered, the trial must
proceed in the following order:
(a) The fiscal, on behalf of the People of the Philippines, must offer evidence in support of the charges.
(b) The defendant or his attorney may offer evidence in support of the defense.
(c) The parties may then respectively offer rebutting evidence only, unless the court, in furtherance of
justice,permit them to offer new additional evidence bearing upon the main issue in question.
(d) When the introduction of evidence shall have been concluded, unless the case is submitted to the
court without argument, the fiscal must open the argument, the attorney for the defense must follow, and
the fiscal may conclude the same.
That procedure observes the "mandate of reason and the guarantee of fairness with which due process is
identified". The procedure outlined safeguards and protects the fundamental right of the accused to be
presumed innocent until the contrary is proved.
Dumlao vs. Commission on Elections
Batas Pambansa Bilang 52 providing that "the filing of charges for the commission of such crimes before
a civil court or military tribunal after preliminary investigation shall be prima facie evidence of such fact",
is hereby declared null and void, for being violative of the constitutional presumption of innocence
guaranteed to an accused. A person disqualified to run for public office on the ground that charges have
been filed against him is virtually placed in the same category as a person already convicted of a crime
with the penalty of arresto, which carries with it the accessory penalty of suspension of the right to hold
office during the term of the sentence. Although the filing of charges is considered as but prima facie
evidence, and therefore, may be rebutted, yet, there is "clear and present danger" that because the
proximity of the elections, time constraints will prevent one charged with acts of disloyalty from offering
contrary proof to overcome the prima facie evidence against him.
People vs. Mingoa
The issue on Whether Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides that "the failure of a public
officer to
have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any
duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to
personal use" does not violate the constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved cannot be sustained. Clearly, the fact presumed is but a natural inference from the
fact proved, so that it cannot be said that there is no rational connection between the two. Furthermore the
statute establishes only a prima facie presumption, thus giving the accused an opportunity to present
evidence to rebut it.
Feeder International Line PTE, Ltd. vs. Court of Appeals
Whether a forfeiture proceeding is penal in nature, and whether the corporation can invoke the right to
be presumed innocent
The penalty in seizure cases is distinct and separate from the criminal liability that might be imposed
against the indicted importer or possessor and both kinds of penalties may be imposed. Considering,
therefore, that proceedings for the forfeiture of goods illegally imported are not criminal in nature since
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they do not result in the conviction of the wrongdoer nor in the imposition upon him of a penalty, proof
beyond reasonable doubt is not required in order to justify the forfeiture of the goods. The degree of
proof required is merely substantial evidence which means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Further, a corporate entity has no personality to
invoke the right to be presumed innocent which right is available only to an individual who is an
accused in a criminal case.
EQUIPOISE RULE:
Where the evidence of the parties in criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional
presumption of innocence should tilt the scales in favor of the accused. There I no equipoise if the
evidence is not evenly balanced. It cannot be invoke if the evidence of the prosecution is
overwhelming.
People vs Holgado
In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an opportunity to be heard
by counsel. It is so implemented that under our rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise
an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of
an attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he
is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own. The right to be heard would
be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent or
educated man may have no skill in the science of the law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and,
without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to
establish his innocence. And this can happen more easily to persons who are ignorant or uneducated.
People vs. Baluyot
The Court has uniformly stressed the importance of the trial court's receiving evidence notwithstanding
the plea of guilty in order that no reasonable doubt may remain as to the guilt and the degree of culpability
of the accused. The Court has time and time again reminded judges that they are duty bound to be extra
solicitous in seeing to it that when an accused pleads guilty he understands fully the meaning of his plea
and the import of inevitable conviction.
The appointment of counsel de officcio for the accused who has no counsel of choice and desires to
employ the services of one mandatory only at the time of arraignment. No such duty exists where the
accused has proceeded to arraignment and then trial with a counsel of his own choice.
Amion vs Judge Chiongson
The preference in the choice of counsel pertains more aptly and specifically to a person under
Investigation rather than none who is accused in a criminal prosecution.
Borja vs. Mendoza
Constitution requires that the accused be arraigned so that he may be informed as to why he was indicted
and what penal offense he has to face, to be convicted only on a showing that his guilt is shown beyond
reasonable doubt with full opportunity to disprove the evidence against him. Moreover, the sentence to be
imposed in such a case is to be in accordance with a valid law. Due process is where the accused is "heard
in a court of competent jurisdiction, and proceeded against under the orderly processes of law, and only
punished after inquiry and investigation, upon notice to him, with an opportunity to be heard, and a
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judgment awarded with the authority of a constitutional law." An arraignment thus becomes
indispensable as the means "for bringing the accused into court and notifying him of the cause he is
required to meet."
People vs. Alcalde
Settled is the rule that when a judge is informed or discovers that an accused is apparently in a present
condition of insanity or imbecility, it is within his discretion to investigate the matter. If it be found that by
reason of such affliction the accused could not, with the aid of counsel, make a proper defense, it is the
duty of the court to suspend the proceedings and commit the accused to a proper place of detention until
his faculties are recovered. Moreover, the aforementioned Section 12(a) of Rule 116 mandates the
suspension of the arraignment and the mental examination of the accused should it appear that he is of
unsound mind.
At the time, what was applicable was Section 12(a) of Rule 116 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure, which reads "The arraignment shall be suspended, if at the time thereof: (a) The accused
appears to be suffering from an unsound mental condition which effectively renders him unable to fully
understand the charge against him and to plead intelligently thereto.
People vs. Dy
Concededly, the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation may not be waived. Indeed,
the defense may waive their right to enter a plea and let the court enter a plea of not guilty in their
behalf. However, it becomes altogether a different matter if the accused themselves refuse to be informed
of the nature and cause of the accusation against them. The defense cannot hold hostage the court by their
refusal to the reading of the complaint or information.
People Vs Sadiosa
The information is sufficient where it clearly states the designation of the offense by the statute and the
acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense. However, there is no need to specify or refer
to the particular section or subsection of the statute that was violated by the accused. No law requires that
in order that an accused may be convicted, the specific provision penalizing the act charged should be
mentioned in the information. What identifies the charge is the actual recital of the facts and not that
designated by the fiscal in the preamble thereof. It is not even necessary for the protection of the
substantial rights of the accused, nor the effective preparation of his defense, that the accused be informed
of the technical name of the crime of which he stands charged. He must look to the facts alleged.
Soriano vs. Sandiganbayan
The description and not the designation of the offense is controlling. Even if there is erroneous
designation [e.g Sec. 3b of the Anti- Graft Law] the accused may still be convicted of bribery if the
information properly describes the offense. The real nature of crime charged is determined from the
recital of facts on the information. It is neither determined based on the caption or preamble thereof nor
from the specification of the law allegedly violated.
People vs Ramirez
A person charged with rape ocf which he was absolved cannot be convicted of qualified seduction, which
was not included in the information.
People vs Abino
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Conviction of the accused of Rape by Intimidation under the information charging him with raping his
daughter while she was asleep and unconscious would violate his constitutional right to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation charged against him.
Teves vs Sandiganbayan
Under the variance doctrine, in spite of the difference between the crime charged and that which was
eventually proved, the accused may still be convicted of whatever offense that was proved even if not
specifically set out in the information provided it is necessarily included in the crime charged.
People vs. Lazano
Although the prosecution's evidence tended to prove that Lozano had carnal knowledge of the victim at least twice,
he cannot be held liable for two counts of rape, because the Information charged him with only one count. An
accused cannot be convicted of an offense, unless it is clearly charged in the complaint or information.
Constitutionally, he has a right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. To convict him
of an offense other than that charged in the complaint or information would be a violation of this constitutional
right.
People vs. Lumilan
Sec. 4, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that an accused may not be convicted of an offense other
than that with which he is charged in the Information, unless such other offense was both established by evidence
and is included in the offense charged in the Information. Since murder or homicide neither includes or is
necessarily included in qualified illegal possession of firearms used in murder or homicide, the trial court may not
validly convict an accused for the former crime under an Information charging the latter offense. Conversely, an
accused charged in the Information with homicide or murder may not be convicted of qualified illegal possession of
firearms used in murder or homicide, for the latter is not included in the former. Pursuant to the amendments to
Section 1 of PD 1866, however, where an accused uses an unlicensed firearm in committing homicide or murder, he
may no longer be charged with what used to be the two separate offenses of homicide or murder under the Revised
Penal Code and qualified illegal possession of firearms used in homicide or murder under PD 1866. As amended by
RA 8294, PD 1866 now mandates that the accused will be prosecuted only for the crime of homicide or murder with
the fact of illegal possession of firearms being relegated to a mere special aggravating circumstance. To obviate any
doubt, RA 8294 expressly restricts the filing of an information for illegal possession of firearms to cases where no
other crime is committed.
People vs Ostia
The trial court is required to probe thoroughly into the reasons as well as the facts and circumstances for the change
of plea of the accused and his comprehension of his plea; explain to him the elements of the crime for which he is
charged as well as the nature and effect of qualifying circumstances, generic aggravating circumstances and
mitigating circumstances in the commission thereof; and inform him of the imposable penalty and his civil
liabilities for the crime for which he would plead guilty to. The trial court failed to explain such to the accused, it
did not even bother inquiring from Ostia whether he sought the advice of his counsel before pleading guilty to
murder and whether he wanted to adduce evidence in his behalf to prove any mitigating circumstances in the
commission of the crime to warrant the imposition of the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua.
People vs. Flores
The issue on whether the informations violates the constitutional right of Pedro Flores to be informed of the nature
and cause of the accusation against him. was denied the constitutional right to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him. This right has the following objectives:
(1) To furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him as will enable him to make the
defense;
(2) (2) To avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for protection against further prosecution for the same
cause;
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(3) (3) Toinform the court of the facts alleged, so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to
support aconviction if one should be had. The right cannot be waived for reasons of public policy.
Hence, it is imperative that the complaint or information filed against the accused be complete to meet its
objectives. As such, an indictment must fully state the elements of the specific offense alleged to have been
committed. For an accused cannot be convicted of an offense, even if duly proven, unless it is alleged or necessarily
included in the complaint or information.
Acebedo vs. Sarmienta
The right to a speedy trial means one free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, its salutary objective
being to assure that an innocent person may be free from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation or, if
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time compatible with the presentation and
consideration of whatever legitimate defense he may interpose. The remedy in the event of a non-observance of
this right is by habeas corpus if the accused were restrained of his liberty, or by certiorari, prohibition, or
mandamus for the final dismissal of the case. The right of the accused to have a speedy trial is violated not only
when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, but also when, without good cause or
justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without having his case tried. An accused person is
entitled to a trial at the earliest opportunity. He cannot be oppressed by delaying the commencement of trial for an
unreasonable length of time. If the proceedings pending trial are deferred, the trial itself is necessarily delayed. It is
not to be supposed, of course, that the Constitution intends to remove from the prosecution every reasonable
opportunity to prepare for trial. Impossibilities cannot be expected or extraordinary efforts required on the part of
the prosecutor or the court. The Constitution does not say that the right to a speedy trial may be availed of only
where the prosecution for crime is commenced and undertaken by the fiscal. It does not exclude from its operation
cases commenced by private individuals. Where once a person is prosecuted criminally, he is entitled to a
speedy trial, irrespective of the nature of the offense or the manner in which it is authorized to be
commenced. More specifically, the Court has consistently adhered to the view that a dismissal based on the denial
of the right to a speedy trial amounts to an acquittal. Necessarily, any further attempt at continuing the
prosecution or starting a new one would fall within the prohibition against an accused being twice put in
jeopardy.
Dacanay vs Paople
Section 8, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure explicitly states: "When two or more accused are
jointly charged with any offense, they shall be tried jointly, unless the court in its discretion upon motion of the
fiscal or any accused orders separate trials for one or more accused." The resulting
inconvenience and expense on the part of the Government (due to a repetition of the presentation of the same
evidence) cannot be given preference over the right to speedy trial and the protection to a person's life, liberty or
property accorded by the Constitution. This is particularly true in Dacanay's case where the prosecutors' opposition
to the request for separate trial was based on the ground that the principal accused in the case, the former President
of NASUTRA, was abroad and was not yet arrested. If an accused cannot be placed under arrest because he remains
outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines, with more reason should his co-accused, who are under arrest,
be entitled to a separate trial. A separate trial is IN CONSONANCE with the right of an accused to a speedy
trial as guaranteed to him by the 1987 Constitution, more specifically under Section 14(2) of Article III thereof.
Herein, it has been 8 years since the information against Dacanay was filed, but the case against him has yet to be
tried. The long delay has clearly prejudiced Dacanay, who is now more than 73 years of age.
People vs Rivera
While the Constitution recognizes the accused's right to competent and independent counsel of his own choice, his
option to secure the services of a private counsel is not absolute. For considering the State's and the offended party's
right to speedy and adequate justice, the court may restrict the accused's option to retain a private counsel if the
accused insists on an attorney he cannot afford, or if the chosen counsel is not a member of the bar, or if the attorney
declines to represent the accused for a valid reason. the Courts are not required to wait indefinitely the pleasure and
convenience of the accused as they are also mandated to promote the speedy and orderly administration of justice.
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Nor should they countenance such an obvious trifling with the rules. Indeed, public policy requires that the trial
continue as scheduled, considering that appellant was adequately represented by counsels who were not shown to be
negligent, incompetent or otherwise unable to represent him.
Garcia vs Domingo
The trial must be public. It possesses that character when anyone interested in observing the manner a judge
conducts the proceedings in his courtroom may do so. There is to be no ban on such attendance. His being a
stranger to the litigants is of no moment. No relationship to the parties need be shown. The thought that lies
behind this safeguard is the belief that thereby the accused is afforded further protection, that his trial is likely to be
conducted with regularity and not tainted with any impropriety. It is understandable why such a right is deemed
embraced in procedural due process. Where a trial takes place, as is quite usual, in the courtroom and a calendar of
what cases are to be heard is posted, no problem arises. It is the usual course of events that individuals desirous of
being present are free to do so. There is the well recognized exception though that warrants the exclusion of the
public where the evidence may be characterized as "offensive to decency or public morals.
" Still, herein, when the trial was held on Saturdays and in the air conditioned chambers of the City
Judge for the convenience of the parties and of the Judge, the proceedings were NOT violative of the right to
public trial. There is no showing that the public was thereby excluded. It is to be admitted that the size of the room
allotted the Judge would reduce the number of those who could be present. Such a fact though is not indicative of
any transgression of this right. Courtrooms are not of uniform dimensions. Some are smaller than others. It suffices
to satisfy the requirement of a trial being public if the accused could "have his friends, relatives and counsel present,
no matter with what offense he may be charged."
Joseph E. Estrada. Perez vs. Estrada
Due process guarantees the accused a presumption of innocence until the contrary is proved in a trial that is not
lifted above its individual settings nor made an object of public's attention and where the conclusions reached are
induced not by any outside force or influence but only by evidence and argument given in open court, where fitting
dignity and calm ambiance is demanded. Thus, an accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that belongs to
him, more than anyone else, where his life or liberty can be held critically in balance. A public trial aims to ensure
that he is fairly dealt with and would not be unjustly condemned and that his rights are not compromised in secrete
conclaves of long ago. A public trial is not synonymous with publicized trial; it only implies that the court doors
must be open to those who wish to come, sit in the available seats, conduct themselves with decorum and observe
the trial process.
United States vs. Javier
Issue on whether the sworn statement, which was executed by a person now deceased, is inadmissible
inasmuch as the accused is not given the opportunity to cross-examine the author thereof.
The Philippine Bill of Rights provides "That in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the
right to meet the witnesses face to face," and the provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure, section 15 (5), states
taht "In all criminal prosecutions the defendant shall be entitled: to be confronted at the trial by and to crossexamine the witnesses against him." With reference to the clause of the Bill of Rights, it "intends to secure the
accused in the right to be tried, so far as facts provable by witnesses are concerned, by only such witnesses as meet
him face to face at the trial, who give their testimony in his presence, and give to the accused an opportunity of
cross-examination. It was intended to prevent the conviction of the accused upon depositions or ex parte affidavits,
and particularly to preserve the right of the accused to test the recollection of the witness in the exercise of the right
of cross-examination." In other words, confrontation is essential because cross-examination is essential. A second
reason for the prohibition is that a tribunal may have before it the deportment and appearance of the witness while
testifying.
PEOPLE VS SANDAL
Sandal, et.al. assigned as an error the fact that the trial court failed to require the fiscal to exhibit the testimony
given by the witnesses during the preliminary investigation conducted by the justice of the peace. But the only
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effect of this failure was to entitle the defense to adduce secondary evidence touching the testimony of said
witnesses, for the purpose of attacking their veracity, should they have been presented as witnesses during the trial.
People vs De Luna
The essence of a plea of guilty is that the accused admits his guilt, freely, voluntarily, and with a full
knowledge of the consequences and meaning of his act and with a clear understanding of the precise nature of the
crime charged in the complaint or information.
In order to be valid, the plea must be an unconditional admission of guilt. It must be of such nature as to
foreclose the defendant's right to defend himself from said charge, thus leaving the court no alternative but to
impose the penalty fixed by law. Under the circumstances of the case, de Luna's qualified plea of guilty is not a
valid plea of guilty. While the Court has had the occasion to rule that it is permissible for an accused to enter a plea
of guilty to the crime charged with the reservation to prove mitigating circumstances, considering, however, the
gravity of the offense charged, the more prudent course for the trial court to follow is to reject the plea made by de
Luna and direct the parties to submit their respective evidence. When an accused pleads guilty to a capital offense,
the court shall conduct a searching inquiry into the voluntariness and full comprehension of the consequences of his
plea and require the prosecution to prove his guilt and the precise degree of culpability. The accused may also
present evidence in his behalf. Thus, after a plea of guilty in capital offenses, it is imperative that the trial court
requires the presentation of evidence for the prosecution to enable itself to determine the precise participation and
the degree of culpability of the accused in the perpetration of the capital offense charged.