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Criminal procedure

Etymology: Krimea [Greek]: meaning, “to charge a wrongdoing”

Criminal Procedure
The method prescribed by law for the apprehension and prosecution of persons accused of any
criminal offense, and their punishment, in case of conviction.

It is concerned with the procedural steps through which a criminal case passes, commencing with
the initial investigation of a crime and concluding with the unconditional release of the offender.

It is a generic term used to describe the network of laws and rules which govern the procedural
administration of criminal justice.

Criminal Jurisdiction

The authority to hear and decide a particular offense and impose punishment for it. It has three
requisites, namely:

Subject matter – cases of the general class where the proceedings in question belong as
determined by the nature of the offense and by the penalty imposed by law;

Territory – the geographical limits of the territory over which the court presides and where the
offense was committed; and

Person of the accused – acquired thru: a) arrest [with warrant or warrantless] or b) voluntary

I. Prosecution of Offenses

How instituted?
By filing the: 1) Complaint, or 2) Information.


A sworn written statement charging a person with an offense

Executed and Subscribed by the O.P.A.O. [Offended Party, Any peace officer, or Other public
officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated].

May be filed in the prosecutors office or directly to the court


1.An accusation in writing

2. Subscribed by the Prosecutor
3.Filed with the court

Both are:

1. In writing
2. In the name of the People of the Philippines
3. Directed against all persons who appear to be responsible for the offense involved.

Elements of a complaint or information:

1. Formal elements, and

2. Substantive elements.

It must be:

1. Sufficient in form, and

2. Sufficient in substance
Thus, under Section 14, of Rule 110, a complaint or information may be amended, in form and in
substance .

A complaint or information is sufficient in form if it states: [N.D.A.N.A.P.]

1. The Name of the accused

2. The Designation of the offense given by the statute

3. The Acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense

4.The Name of the offended party

5. The Approximate date of the commission of the offense

6. The Place where the offense was committed.

A complaint or information is sufficient in substance if it doesn’t contain any of the defects which
is a ground for a motion to quash. (Section 3, Rule 117)

Note: A motion to quash, once granted, is equivalent to dismissal (but not acquittal).

Remedy if a complaint or information is defective:

I. If defective in form
a) court may dismiss the complaint or information motu propio or upon motion, or

b) accused may move for a BILL OF PARTICULARS

II. If defective in substance – No obligation is imposed on the judge to point out the
duplicitousness or other defect in the indictment on which an accused is being arraigned. It is for
the accused to move for a motion to quash

on the ground that the complaint or information charges more than one offense, under sanction of
waiver and loss of ground of objection (Concurring opinion of CJ Narvasa, People v. Bartulay,
192 SCRA 632)

Note: For certain classes of Actions, it is the tribunal having jurisdiction which automatically
determines whether or not the papers are in order before giving it due course, meaning, it satisfies
itself if the complaint or information is sufficient in form and in substance.


Articles of Impeachment in an impeachment proceedings

Presidential Election Protest

This is not so in criminal proceedings. It is incumbent upon the accused to object on substantive
defects (People v. Bartulay, supra).


JP was charged for indiscriminate firing. He claimed that he has to fire his gun in self-defense
because there was an actual threat on his person and the firing of warning shots was reasonably
necessary in order to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression directed against him. Despite this,
the fiscal went on to file the information in court. May JP claim that the information, though
sufficient in form, is defective in substance? Why?

No. JP cannot claim that the information is defective in substance. This is so because “self-
defense” is not a ground for a motion to quash but a matter of defense. If proven, self-defense is a
basis for acquittal, not dismissal.
Any explanation or defense which the defendant may want to invoke can be properly raised
during trial (Galvez v. CA, 237 SCRA 685).

Distinction between Acquittal and Dismissal:

1. Acquittal is based on MERITS of the case (substantive) ex: accused A was found innocent of
killing B.

2. Dismissal is based on TECHNICALITY (procedural) ex: the crime has already prescribed.


1. There are certain classes of offenses that cannot be prosecuted de officio – 1private offenses,
i.e. adultery, concubinage, etc. and 2private libels, i.e. defamation imputing private offenses.

2. For some offenses, there are conditions precedents before plaintiff can repair to the courts
for redress [i.e. those requiring mediation at the “lupong tagapamayapa”]. However, non-
compliance of this rule is

not jurisdictional. The failure of the plaintiff to comply with the conciliation requirement of Sec.
40 under the Local Government Code of 1991 does not affect the Court’s jurisdiction if no timely
objection is made [San Miguel

Village School v. Pundogar, 173 SCRA 704, Bejar v. CA, 169 SCRA 566].

3. All criminal actions, whether commenced by filing of complaint or information, are under
the direct control of the prosecutor.


I. A, B, C, D were charged with homicide. Preliminary investigation was conducted by the fiscal
who found sufficient evidence against all, but, according to his determination, D was the least
guilty. So the fiscal filed the information only against A, B, and C leaving out D whom he would
utilize as state witness. Is the fiscal correct?

Under the Rules of Court, the fiscal cannot exclude D without court approval. It would be a grave
abuse of discretion on the part of the court in not including D in the information because of the
prosecutors finding that there is sufficient evidence against all. There was no more necessity to
utilize D as a state witness.


Under the Witness Protection Act, the prosecutor has the discretion of discharging an accused as
a state witness and no court approval is necessary.

II. Is designation of the offense an essential element of the complaint or information? Why? Give
the exception, if any.

No. Because in case of conflict between the designation of the offense and the allegations, the
allegation prevails.

The exception is when the allegation is so ambiguous that it may be interpreted to mean either
one or another offense, then the designation of the offense is controlling (Case of US v. Dixon,
where the designation is for trespassing but the allegations indicates either trespassing or a
possible attempted rape).

II. Prosecution of Civil Action


Art. 100, RPC - Every person criminally liable is also civilly liable

Generally, when a person commits a crime, he offends two entities, namely:

1) The State [whose laws he violated]; and
2) The individual [whose person, right, honor, chastity, or property was actually or directly
injured or damaged by the same acts or omissions].


When the infraction falls under the class of offenses called victimless crimes like gambling,
betting on illegal cock fights, drug addiction, prostitution, etc. etc. under the theory that “the
offender himself is his own victim”.

Sec. 1, Rule 111 - When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil
liability is deemed instituted with the criminal action unless the offended party:

Waives the civil action;

Reserves the right to institute it separately; or

Institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action

Principle of proferrence of criminal action over civil action:

After the criminal action has been commenced, the separate civil action arising therefrom cannot
be instituted until final judgment has been entered in the criminal action.

If the criminal action is filed after the said civil action has already been instituted, the latter shall
be suspended in whatever stage it may be found before judgments on the merits xxx.

Reason for the rule:

Criminal action is based on an offense committed against the laws of the State while civil action
is based on an injury to individual rights. Public interest is superior over private one.

Exception to the rule of proferrence of criminal action over civil action

When the independent Civil Action is based on Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code.

When there is a prejudicial question in the civil case that must be decided first before the criminal
action can proceed because the decision in the civil action is vital to the judgment of the criminal

Elements of Prejudicial Question:

The previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
raised in the subsequent criminal action, and

The resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.


1. Nobern married Armie on 2005. On 2006, Nobern married X. On 2007, Armie filed a criminal
case for bigamy against Nobern. On 2008, X filed a civil case for annulment against Nobern on
the ground that their marriage was void ab initio for having been contracted during the
subsistence of Nobern’s prior marriage to Armie without X knowing it.

Is there a prejudicial question? Why?

2. Nobern married Armie on 2005. On 2006, Nobern married X because X threatened to kill him
unless he marries X. On 2007, Nobern filed an annulment against X on the ground of threat and
intimidation. On 2008, Armie filed a criminal case for bigamy against Nobern upon learning of
Nobern’s marriage to X.

Is there a prejudicial question? Why?


Prejudicial question is subject to the principle that he who comes into court must come with clean
hands. The accused cannot be permitted to use the law in order to frustrate the ends of justice.
Good faith or bad faith is important.

III. Preliminary Investigation


It is an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-

founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and
should be held for trial.

When required?

Before the filing of complaint or information for an offense where the penalty prescribed by law
is imprisonment of at least 4 years, 2 months and 1 day, without regard to fine.


In cases where the penalty imposed by law is NOT at least 4 years, 2 month, & 1 day

In case of a valid warantless arrest [shall proceed in inquest]

Officers authorized to conduct PI

Provincial or City Prosecutors and their assistants;

National and Regional State Prosecutors; and

Other officers as may be authorized by law [COMELEC during Election Period, Ombudsman,

Note: Effective 2004, judges of the lower court canno longer conduct Preliminary Investigations.


1. The complaint must be sufficient in form [See notes in Prosecution of Offenses, supra]

2. Supported by affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses

3. Numbers of copies are proportionate to the number of respondents plus 2 official copies

1. Within 10 days after the filing, fiscal determines if there is prima facie case. If no – dismiss. If
yes – issue subpoenas.

2. Within 10 days after receipt of subpoena with the complaint and supporting affidavits and
documents – respondent submits counter affidavits.
3. In case respondent cannot be subpoenaed or does not submit counter affidavit within 10 days –
investigating officer resolves the complaint on the basis of evidence presented by complainant.

Clarificatory hearing – if there are facts and issues to be clarified from a party or witness - within
10 days after submission of counter affidavit. No direct examinations. Questions must be
addressed to the fiscal.

Resolution – within 10 days after the investigation.

Forwarding of fiscals’ resolution to superiors – within 5 days

Superiors shall act on the resolution – within 10 days