Double jeopardy

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The Constitution (Art. III, Sec. 21) provides that "no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense." The accused’s negative constitutional right not to be "twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense" protects him from, among others, post-conviction prosecution for the same offense, with the prior verdict rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid information.[1] The right has, of course, broader scope to cover not only prior guilty pleas but also acquittals and unconsented dismissals to bar prosecutions for the same, lesser or graver offenses covered in the initial proceedings.[2]


Contents

History

The early development of the principle can be traced through a variety of sources ranging from legal maxims to casual references in contemporary commentary. Although the form and breadth of the prohibition varied widely, the underlying premise was generally that a defendant should not be twice tried or punished for the same offense. Writing in the 17th century, Lord Coke described the protection afforded by the principle of double jeopardy as a function of three related common-law pleas: autrefois acquit, autrefois convict, and pardon. Blackstone later used the ancient term "jeopardy" to characterize the principle underlying the two pleas of autrefois acquit and autrefois convict. He stated that the principle was a "universal maxim of the common law of England that no man is to be brought into jeopardy of his life more than once for the same offense."[3]

The United States Supreme Court declared that at the heart of this policy is the concern that permitting the sovereign freely to subject the citizen to a second judgment for the same offense would arm the government with a potent instrument of oppression. The provision therefore guarantees that the State shall not be permitted to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense, and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty. Society’s awareness of the heavy personal strain which a criminal trial represents for the individual defendant is manifested in the willingness to limit the government to a single criminal proceeding to vindicate its very vital interest in the enforcement of criminal laws.[4]


Requisites for double jeopardy

The Rules of Court provides that when an accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information.[5] The three elements that must exist for double jeopardy to be invoked are: (1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and (3) the second jeopardy must be for the same offense as that in the first.[6]

1. A first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second

There is double jeopardy only when: 1) there is a valid complaint or information; 2) filed before a competent court; 3) to which defendant had pleaded; and 4) of which he has previously been convicted or acquitted or which was dismissed or terminated without his express consent.[7] Otherwise stated, legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a competent court, (c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been entered; and (e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused.[8]

Competent jurisdiction. When the prosecution is deprived of an opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, the decision rendered by the court is void for lack of jurisdiction and court cannot be considered a court of competent jurisdiction.[9]

Terminated without the consent of accused. Double jeopardy does not attach when the dismissal of the case is brought about by a motion of the accused, as when the accused files a motion to quash or a motion to dismissed based on a violation of his right to a speedy trial.[10]


2. The first jeopardy must have been validly terminated

When the accused is deemed to have expressly given his consent to a previous criminal case by filing a motion to quash the information, there could be no double jeopardy since one of the requisites therefore, i.e., that the dismissal be without accused’s express consent, is not present.[11] The reinstatement of a criminal cases against the accused does not violate his right against double jeopardy since the dismissal of the information by the trial court had been effected at his own instance when the accused filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that the facts charged do not constitute an offense and that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case.[12]

3. Second jeopardy must be for the same offense as that in the first

Under the prohibition against double jeopardy, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for: (a) the offense charged; (b) for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof; or (c) for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information.

Same offense charged

A single act or incident might offend two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of law,[13] thus justifying the filing of several charges against the accused. [14] For instance, under the threefold liability rule, a simple act or omission can give rise to criminal, civil or administrative liability, each independently of the others. As early as the start of the last century, the Supreme Court had ruled that a single act or incident might offend against two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of law thus justifying the prosecution of the accused for more than one offense. The only limit to this rule is the Constitutional prohibition that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for "the same offense."[15] Two (or more) offenses arising from the same act are not "the same" if one provision of law requires proof of an additional fact or element which the other does not. Phrased elsewise, where two different laws (or articles of the same code) define two crimes, prior jeopardy as to one of them is no obstacle to a prosecution of the other, although both offenses arise from the same facts, if each crime involves some important act which is not an essential element of the other.[16]

Other offenses necessarily included in the offense charged

The conviction of the accused shall not be a bar to another prosecution for an offense which necessarily includes the offense charged in the former complaint or information under any of the following instances:[17]

  • The graver offense developed due to supervening facts arising from the same act or omission constituting the former charge.[18]
  • The facts constituting the graver charge became known or were discovered only after a plea was entered in the former complaint or information.[19]
  • The plea of guilty to the lesser offense was made without the consent of the prosecutor and of the offended party except as provided in section 1 (f) of Rule 116.[20]

In any of the foregoing cases, where the accused satisfies or serves in whole or in part the judgment, he shall be credited with the same in the event of conviction for the graver offense.[21]


State cannot appeal an acquittal

The rule is that a judgment acquitting the accused is final and immediately executory upon its promulgation, and that accordingly, the State may not seek its review without placing the accused in double jeopardy. Such acquittal is final and unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy whether it happens at the trial court or on appeal at the Court of Appeals.[22] The government cannot secure a new trial by means of an appeal even though an acquittal may appear to be erroneous. The errors committed by the trial court in the exercise of its jurisdiction, or even the legal soundness of such decision, errors of judgment, mistakes in its findings and conclusions, are not proper subjects of appeal under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.[23]

Rationale

The underlying idea is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense, and ordeal, and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty. Thus, the State is prevented from honing its trial strategies and perfecting its evidence through successive attempts at conviction. Repeated prosecutorial sallies would unfairly burden defendant and create a risk of conviction through sheer governmental perseverance. For this reason, when a reversal rests upon the ground that the prosecution has failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove its case, the Double Jeopardy Clause bars the prosecutor from making a second attempt at conviction.[24]

As a general rule, the prosecutor is entitled to one, and only one, opportunity to require an accused to stand trial. The reason is not that the first trial established the defendant’s factual innocence, but rather that the second trial would present all the untoward consequences that the clause was designed to prevent. The government would be allowed to seek to persuade a second trier of the fact of the defendant’s guilt, to strengthen any weaknesses in its first presentation, and to subject the defendant to the expense and anxiety of a second trial.[25]

Exception

A judgment of acquittal may be assailed by the prosecution in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court without placing the accused in double jeopardy. The prosecution is burdened to establish that the court a quo acted without jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. Moreover, only the Solicitor General, not the private complainant, may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal.[26] If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State through the Solicitor General.[27] In the prosecution of an offense, the private complainant's role is limited to that of a witness for the prosecution.[28] The private offended party or complainant may not take the appeal.[29] However, where it is alleged that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction or on other jurisdictional grounds, a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 may be filed by the person aggrieved. In such case, the aggrieved parties are the State and the private offended party or complainant, which has an interest in the civil aspect of the case, may file such special civil action questioning the decision on jurisdictional grounds. The complainant should not bring the action in the name of the People of the Philippines. The action may be prosecuted in name of said complainant.[30]

Waiver of the right against Double Jeopardy in appeal by the prosecution

In certain cases,[31] the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal taken by the Government despite the failure of the accused to object thereto. However, the accused in those cases, unlike the accused in People vs. Casiano,[32], did not file any brief. Hence, they had performed no affirmative act from which a waiver could be implied. [33] The defense of double jeopardy may be waived and failure to urge it in the appeal may be regarded as a waiver of said defense of double jeopardy.[34] In People vs. Pinuila,[35] and People vs. Manantan,[36] the accused failed to raise the issue of double jeopardy when the appeal was filed by the Government, as well as in their appeal brief.


References

  1. Section 7, Rule 117 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, cited in Jason Ivler vs. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, 17 November 2010
  2. Jason Ivler vs. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, 17 November 2010
  3. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  4. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  5. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7
  6. People vs. Tac-An, 398 SCRA 373, 380 (2003), cited Dimayacyac vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136264, 28 May 2004
  7. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  8. Dimayacyac vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136264, 28 May 2004, citing People vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851
  9. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  10. Dela Rosa vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 116945, 9 February 1996
  11. Dimayacyac vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136264, 28 May 2004
  12. Sta. Rita vs. Court of Appeals, 247 SCRA 484 (1995), cited Dimayacyac vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136264, 28 May 2004
  13. Soriano vs. People, G.R. No. 159517-18, 30 June 2009, citing Loney v. People, G.R. No. 152644, 10 February 2006, 482 SCRA 194, 209
  14. Soriano vs. People, G.R. No. 159517-18, 30 June 2009
  15. Loney v. People, G.R. No. 152644, 10 February 2006, 482 SCRA 194, 209, cited in Soriano vs. People, G.R. No. 159517-18, 30 June 2009
  16. Loney v. People, G.R. No. 152644, 10 February 2006, 482 SCRA 194, 209, cited in Soriano vs. People, G.R. No. 159517-18, 30 June 2009
  17. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7
  18. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7(a)
  19. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7(b)
  20. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7(c)
  21. Rules of Court, Rule 117, Sec. 7
  22. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  23. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  24. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  25. People vs. Sandiganbayan (First Division), G.R. Nos. 168188-89, 16 June 2006
  26. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  27. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  28. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  29. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  30. People vs. Santiago, G.R. No. L-80778, 20 June 1989
  31. People vs. Manantan, G.R. No. L-14129, 30 August 1962, citing People vs. Casiano, G.R. No. L-15309, 16 February 1961, which in turn cited People vs. Hernandez, 49 O.G. 5342, People vs. Ferrer, L-9072, 23 October 1956, People vs. Bao, L-12102, 29 September 1959, and People vs. Golez, L-14160
  32. G.R. No. L-15309, 16 February 1961, cited in People vs. Manantan, G.R. No. L-14129, 30 August 1962
  33. People vs. Manantan, G.R. No. L-14129, 30 August 1962
  34. People vs. Pinuila, G.R. No. L-11374, 30 May 1958, cited in People vs. Manantan, G.R. No. L-14129, 30 August 1962
  35. G.R. No. L-11374, 30 May 1958
  36. G.R. No. L-14129, 30 August 1962
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