Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Identifying the Accused

In criminal prosecution, not only is it necessary to prove the existence of the body of the crime or corpus delicti (the fact of the commission of the crime charged - People v. Mittu, 333 SCRA 121), it is also necessary to prove the identity of the accused as the perpetrator. A common way of proving the identity of the perpetrator is to have a witness to the crime point to perpetrator in court.

For out-of-court identification, the Supreme Court in People v. Teehankee (G.R. Nos. 111206-08 October 6, 1995) set the factors to consider in evaluating its admissibility and reliability, known as the Totality of Circumstances Test:

(1) the witness’ opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime;
(2) the witness’ degree of attention at the time;
(3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness;
(4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification;
(5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and
(6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.

In People vs. Caliso (G.R. No.  183830, October 19, 2011), the following question was asked: When is identification of the perpetrator of a crime positive and reliable enough for establishing his guilt beyond reasonable doubt?

According the Supreme Court, identification of the perpetrator may not be through an eyewitness if there is none. In lieu of an eyewitness, trustworthy circumstantial evidence can serve as positive identification, such as when the accused is the person or one of the persons last seen with the victim immediately before and right after the commission of the crime. In order for said circumstantial evidence to be enough to convict the accused, it should  when taken together with other pieces of evidence constituting an unbroken chain, lead to only fair and reasonable conclusion, which is that the accused is the author of the crime to the exclusion of all others.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Supreme Court: PDAF is Unconstitutional

The Philippine Supreme Court on November 19, 2013 handed a decision declaring the legislative pork barrel, formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

In a 72-page decision (G.R. No. 208566, G.R. No. 208493, G.R. No. 209251) penned by Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe, the Supreme Court held that the practice of allowing legislators some degree of control on funds already appropriated is giving them power which they do not have under the Constitution. The PDAF, thus, violates the principle of separation of powers and the principle of non-delegability of legislative power. It has also impaired public accountability and subverted local autonomy, said the Supreme Court.

Following is a link to the full text of the decision: http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2013/toc/november.php


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When to File a Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence

Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, states:

"Demurrer to evidence. – After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence (1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution the opportunity to be heard or (2) upon demurrer to the evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court."

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"The motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence shall specifically state its grounds and shall be filed within a non-extendible period of five (5) days after the prosecution rests its case. The prosecution may oppose the motion within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from its receipt." [emphasis supplied]

In order to count properly the non-extendible period of five days, it is important to know when the prosecution is considered to have rested its case. According to the Supreme Court, the prosecution is considered to have rested its case after court has already ruled on the admissibility of the prosecution's documentary exhibits.

In other words, the five-day non-extendible period is not to be counted from the date of the hearing when the prosecution has orally manifested that it rests its case, nor from the date of the prosecution's oral formal offer of documentary exhibits or from the date the counsel for the accused received a copy of the the prosecution's written formal offer. It is to be counted from the date the court has ruled on the admissibility of the prosecution's evidence. Take note that the court may immediately rule on the admissibility of the documentary exhibits if these were offered orally during the hearing. If you are for the prosecution, it is therefore best to offer your documentary exhibits orally so that the court can rule on it in the same hearing.

In Cabador vs. People (G.R. No. 186001, October 2, 2009), the Supreme Court stated:
"Here, after the prosecution filed its formal offer of exhibits on August 1, 2006, the same day Cabador filed his motion to dismiss, the trial court still needed to give him an opportunity to object to the admission of those exhibits.  It also needed to rule on the formal offer. And only after such a ruling could the prosecution be deemed to have rested its case."

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