Friday, June 04, 2010

Legal Procedures 10: Pleadings and motions before arraignment; motion for judicial determination of probable cause

Free PDF legal procedures pleadings and motions before arraignment(Note: Please surf to the complete list of available PDFs on legal procedures in criminal and civil cases.)

1. Petition for review - filed with the Department of Justice, the Regional State Prosecutor’s office, or the Office of the President, if the prosecutor has committed manifest error or grave abuse of discretion during the preliminary investigation. Period of suspension of arraignment must not exceed sixty days from the filing of the petition for review.

2. Motion for reinvestigation - alleges defects or irregularities in the preliminary investigation, requests that the findings be invalidated and that another investigation be conducted to determine if there is probable cause.

3. Motion for a bill of particulars (Rule 116, Section 10) - specifies alleged defects of the complaint or information and requests details that will enable the accused to plead properly to the charge against him and to adequately prepare for trial.

4. Motion for suspension of arraignment - may be filed on the ground that the accused appears to be suffering from an unsound mental condition that effectively renders him unable to fully understand the charge against him and to plead intelligently. In such a case, the court orders a mental examination of the accused and if necessary, his confinement. Another ground is when the court finds the existence of a valid prejudicial question (for example, a void first marriage in bigamy cases).

5. Motion to quash the information -

(a) The accused has been previously convicted or in jeopardy of being convicted, or has been acquitted of the offense charged.

(b) The criminal action or liability has already prescribed.

(c) The facts charged do not constitute an offense.

(d) The court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the case or over the person of the accused.

(e) The officer who filed the information had no authority to do so

(f)The information contains statements which constitute a legal excuse or justification

(g) It does not conform substantially to the prescribed form.

(h) More than one offense is charged (except in cases where the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses).
6. Production or inspection of material evidence in possession of prosecution, police or other law investigating agencies in order to prevent surprise, suppression, or alteration (Sec. 10, Rule 116).

7. Motion to quash a search warrant or to suppress evidence (Section 14 of Rule 126) - “A motion to quash a search warrant and/or to suppress evidence obtained thereby may be filed in and acted upon only by the court where the action has been instituted. If no criminal action has been instituted, the motion may be filed in and resolved by the court that issued search warrant. However, if such court failed to resolve the motion and a criminal case is subsequently filed in another court, the motion shall be resolved by the latter court.”

(If I remember correctly, Atty. Oliver Lozano many years ago defended an alleged drug lord by filing a motion to suppress the State’s evidence, a shipload of drugs. Atty. Lozano argued that there was no evidence linking the boatload of drugs to the accused, that the ship was registered in another person’s name, etc. The judge agreed with this contention and dismissed the complaint without a full-blown trial. I remember reading a newspaper column by retired SC Justice Isagani Cruz that criticized the dismissal of the case.)

8. Motion for judicial determination of probable cause: Please read the Supreme Court decision in “Dio v. Court of Appeals” G.R. No. 178947, June 26, 2013. The pertinent provisions of the decision are posted below:

Actions that a judge may take once the information is filed with the court and after evaluating the evidence on record:

(a) issue a warrant of arrest, if there is probable cause;

(b) immediately dismiss the case, if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause; or

(c) order the prosecutor to submit additional evidence, if the existence of probable cause is doubtful.
(a) Determination of probable cause may be either executive or judicial.

Executive determination of probable cause is made by the public prosecutor, during a preliminary investigation. The prosecutor has broad discretion to determine whether probable cause exists for filing a criminal information in court.

Whether or not the prosecutor has correctly ascertained that probable cause exists is a matter that the trial court itself does not and may not be compelled to pass upon.

Judicial determination of probable cause is made by the judge to find out whether a warrant of arrest should be issued against the accused. The judge must satisfy himself or herself that, on the basis of the evidence submitted, the accused must be placed under custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice.

If the judge, therefore, finds no probable cause, he or she cannot be forced to issue the arrest warrant.

(b) Caution for defense lawyers in filing a motion for judicial determination of probable cause: the judge is already duty-bound upon the filing of the information to determine the existence or non-existence of probable cause for the arrest of the accused. The filing of a motion for judicial determination of probable cause becomes unnecessary, if not deliberately attempts to cut short the process by asking the judge to weigh in on the evidence without a full- blown trial.

(c) A judge may immediately dismiss a case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. A judge’s determination of probable cause is generally confined to the limited purpose of issuing arrest warrants. But Section 5(a), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure explicitly states that a judge may immediately dismiss a case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause.

(d) Caution for judges: So as not to transgress the public prosecutor’s authority, the judge’s dismissal of a case must be done only in clear-cut cases when the evidence on record plainly fails to establish probable cause — that is, when the records readily show uncontroverted, and thus, established facts that unmistakably negate the existence of the elements of the crime charged.