Monday, March 06, 2006

Warrantless arrests

Presidential Proclamation 1017 has brought to the fore the issue of warrantless arrests. For the man on the street, his understanding of the law is that a person can only be arrested by the police authorities by virtue of a warrant of arrest. However, with or without PP1017, the Rules of Court provide for certain instances when an arrest can be made even without a warrant.

Essentially, a police officer or a private person may arrest a person without a warrant if such person:

(1) has committed or attempts to commit an offense in his presence;
(2) an offense has been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;
(3) is an escaped convict.

In warrantless arrests, the fiscal conducts an inquest, not a preliminary investigation. If the accused is held by the police for more than 18, 24 or 36 hours without charges being filed, they will be liable for violation of Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code (delay in the delivery of prisoners). If the accused however signs a waiver of his detention, he is entitled to a preliminary investigation which must be finished in 15 days. He may however still apply for bail. If the accused does not sign a waiver and charges are filed, he may ask for a preliminary investigation within 5 days of learning of the filing of the information.

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