Rights Of The Accused At The Trial

RULE 115 

The rule enumerates the rights of a person accused of an offense, which are both constitutional as well as statutory, save the right to appeal which is purely statutory in character.

1. Substantive – considers the intrinsic validity of the law
2. Procedural – based on the principle that a court hears before it condemns. Requirement of notice and hearing.

Section 1. Rights of accused at trial

A. To Be Presumed Innocent
- In all criminal prosecutions, the accused is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

- The conviction should be based on the strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense, an accusation is not synonymous with guilt.

- It is the doubt engendered by an investigation of the whole proof and inability, after such investigation, to let the mind rest easy upon the certainty of guilt. Absolute certainty of guilt is not demanded by the law to convict of any criminal charge but moral certainty is required as to every proposition of proof requisite to constitute the offense.

REASON: the slightest possibility of an innocent man being convicted for an offense he has not committed would be far more dreaded than letting a guilty person go unpunished or for a crime, he may have perpetrated.

- where the evidence of the parties in a criminal case are evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt in favor of the accused who must be acquitted.

Exceptions To The Presumption Of Innocence
People v. Mingoa, 92 Phil 856 (1953)
- The legislature may enact that when certain facts have been proved, they shall be prima facie evidence of the existence of guilt of the accused and shift the burden of proof provided there be a rational connection between the facts proved and the ultimate fact presumed so that the inference of the one from proof of the other is not unreasonable and arbitrary experience.

In cases of self-defense, the person who invokes self-defense is presumed guilty. In this case, a REVERSE TRIAL will be held.

B. To Be Informed Of The Nature And The Cause Of The Accusation Against Him

The right requires that the information should state the facts and the circumstances constituting the crime charged in such a way that
a person of common understanding may easily comprehend and be
   informed of what it is about.

   People v. Ortega, 276 SCRA 166 (2003)
      - An accused may not be convicted of an offense unless it is
        clearly charged in the complaint or information. To convict
        him of an offense other than that charged in the complaint or
        information would be a violation of this constitutional right.

   When a person is charged in a complaint with a crime and the evidence
   does not show that he is guilty thereof, but does show that he is
   guilty of some other crime or a lesser offense, the court may sentence
   him for the lesser offense, PROVIDED that the lesser offense is a
   cognate offense and is included in the complaint filed in court.

   The qualifying or aggravating circumstances must be ALLEGED and
   PROVED in order to be considered by the court.

C. To Be Present And Defend In Person And By Counsel At Every Stage Of The Proceeding

Presence of the Accused is required:
1. During arraignment (Sec. 1b, Rule 116)
2. Promulgation of judgment EXCEPT when the conviction is for a light offense, in which case, it may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative.
3. when ordered by the court for purposes of identification
Not applicable in the SC and CA
- The law securing to an accused person the right to be present at every stage at the proceedings has no application to the proceedings before the CA and the SC nor to the entry and promulgation of the judgments. The defendant need not be present during the hearing of the appeal. (Sec. 9, Rule 124)

   Aquino, Jr. v. Military Commission, 63 SCRA 546 (1975)
      - The accused may waive his right to be present during the trial.
        However, his presence may be compelled when he is to be identified.

   Effects Of Waiver Of The Right To Appear By The Accused
   1. waiver of the right to present evidence
   2. prosecution can present evidence if the accused fails to appear
   3. the court can decide without the evidence of the accused

   Trial in Absencia
      - It is important to state that the provision of the Constitution
        authorizing the trial in absentia of the accused in case of his
        non-appearance AFTER ARRAIGNMENT despite due notice simply means
        that he thereby waives his right to meet the witnesses
        face to face, among others.

        Such waiver of a right of the accused does not mean a release
        of the accused from his obligation under bond to appear in court
        when so required. The accused may waive his right but not his
        duty or obligation to the court.

        1. accused has been arraigned
        2. he has been duly notified of the trial
        3. his failure to appear is unjustified

        Gimenez v. Nazareno, 160 SCRA 1 (1988)
           - an escapee who has been duly tried in absentia waives his
             right to present evidence on his own behalf and to confront
             and cross-examine witnesses that have testified against him.

D. Right To Counsel

   Importance: Without the aid of counsel, a person may be convicted,
   not because he is guilty but because he does not know how to
   establish his innocence.

   The right covers the period beginning from the custodial investigation,
   well into the rendition of the judgment and even on appeal.
   (People v. Serzo, Jr. 274 SCRA 553) the right to counsel can be invoked
   at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal.

      - It is the questioning by law enforcement officers of a SUSPECT
        taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of
        action in a significant way. it includes the practice of issuing
        an “invitation” to a person who is investigated in connection
        with an offense he is suspected to have committed. (RA 7437)

   People v. Morial, 363 SCRA 96 (2001)
      - If during the investigation the assisting lawyer leaves, comes
        and goes, the statement signed by the accused is still
        inadmissible because the lawyer should assist his client from
        the time the confessant answers the first question asked by the
        investigating officer until the signing of the extrajudicial

   The right to counsel and the right to remain silent do not cease even
   after a criminal complaint/information has already been filed
   against the accused AS LONG AS he is still in custody.

   The duty of the court to appoint a counsel de oficio when the
   accused has no legal counsel of choice and a desire to employ one is
   MANDATORY only at the time of ARRAIGNMENT (sec. 6, Rule 116)

   Difference Between The Right To Counsel During Custodial Investigation
   and During The Trial
   A. During trial – the right to counsel means EFFECTIVE counsel.
      Counsel is here not to prevent the accused from a confessing but to
      defend the accused.
   B. Custodial Investigation – stricter requirement, it requires the
      presence of competent and independent counsel who is preferably
      the choice of the accused. Since a custodial investigation is
      not done in public there is a danger that confessions can be
      exacted against the will of the accused.

   The right to counsel is NOT ABSOLUTE, it subject to being exercised
   within a reasonable time and manner (Laranaga v. CA, 281 SCRA 254)
   he cannot insist on one that he cannot afford, one who is not a
   member of the bar and one who declines for a valid reason such as
   conflict of interest. (People v. Servo, 274 SCRA 553)

   Waiver of Right to Counsel
      - This is when the accused voluntarily submits himself to the
        jurisdiction of the court and proceeds with his defense.

   Jurisprudence provides that the defendant cannot raise the question
   of his right to have an attorney the first time on appeal.

   The accused may defend himself in person only if the court is
   convinced that he can properly protect his rights even without the
   assistance of counsel.

   US v. Escalante, 36 Phil. 743 (1917)
      - If the question is not raised in the trial court, the
        prosecution may go to trial.

   People v. Nang Kay, 88 Phil. 515 (1951)
      - the question will not be considered in the appellate court for
        the first time when the accused fails to raise it in the
        lower court.

   Delgado v. CA, 145 SCRA 357 (1986)
      - The mistake of counsel will bind his client. The only exception
        is when the counsel represents himself as a lawyer and is not
        one because in that case the accused is denied of his right to
        counsel and due process.

E. To Testify As A Witness In His Own Behalf

   People v. Santiago, 46 Phil 734 (1922)
      - A denial of the defendant’s right to testify on his own behalf
        would constitute an unjustifiable violation of his
        constitutional right.

   If the accused testifies, he may be cross-examined ONLY on matters
   covered by his direct examination, unlike an ordinary witness who
   can be cross-examined as to any matter stated in the direct
   examination or connected therewith (Section 6, Rule 132). His failure
   to testify will not be taken against him but his failure to present
   evidence in his behalf shall be taken against him (US v. Bay, 97 SCRA 495).

   The testimony of an accused who testifies on his own behalf but
   refuses to be cross examined will not be  given weight and will
   have no probative value  because the prosecution will not be able
   to test its credibility.

F. Right Against Self-Incrimination 

   The scope of this right covers only testimonial compulsion only and
   not the compulsion to produce real and physical evidence using the
   body of the accused.

   DNA TESTING is not covered in the right against self-incrimination

   Rationale For Protecting The Right Against Self Incrimination:
   1. humanitarian reasons, to prevent the state from using its
      coercive powers.
   2. practical reasons - the accused is more likely to commit perjury.

   The accused in protected under this rule from questions that tend
   to incriminate him, which means those that may subject him to
   penal liability.

   The right may be waived by the failure of the accused to invoke the
   privilege at the proper time, that is AFTER the incriminating
   question is asked and BEFORE his answer.

   The privilege of the accused to be exempt from testifying as a
   witness, involves a prohibition against testimonial compulsion
   only and the production by the accused of incriminating documents
   and articles demanded off him. (US v. Tan Teng, 23 Phil, 145)

   EXCEPTIONS: immunity statutes such as:
   1. RA 1379 (Forfeiture of illegally obtained wealth)
   2. RA 749 – Bribery and Graft cases

   Right Of The Accused Vs. Right Of An Ordinary Witness
      - The ordinary witness may be compelled to take the witness
        stand and claim the privilege as each and every incriminating
        question is thrown at him while an accused may refuse to take
        the witness stand and refuse to answer any and all questions.
        The accused may also refuse to answer on his past criminality
        only if he can still be prosecuted for it.

   However, if the accused testifies in his own behalf, then he may
   be cross-examined as any other witness. He may NOT on cross
   examination refuse to answer any question on the ground that the
   answer he will give or the evidence that he will produce would have
   the tendency to incriminate him for the crime that he was charged.
   But he MAY refuse to answer any question incriminating him for an
   offense distinct from that for which he is charged.

   Rights Of The Accused In The Matter Of Testifying Of Producing Evidence
   Before the case:
   1. Right to be informed
   2. Right to remain silent and to counsel
   3. Right not to be subjected to force or violence or any other means
      which vitiate free will
   4. Right to have the evidence obtained in violation of these rights

   After the case is filed in court:
   1. Right to refuse to be a witness
   2. Right to not have any prejudice whatsoever result to him by
      such refusal
   3. The right to testify on his own behalf subject to cross-examination
      by the prosecution
   4. While testifying the right to refuse a specific question which
      ends to incriminate him for some other crime.

   Use Immunity
      - Witness’ compelled testimony and the fruits thereof cannot be
        used in subsequent prosecution of a crime against him

      - Witness can still be prosecuted but the compelled testimony
        cannot be used against him.

   Transactional Immunity
      - Witness immune from prosecution of a crime to which his compelled
        testimony relates.

      - Witness cannot be prosecuted at all

   Effect of Refusal of Accused to Testify
   General Rule:
      - Silence should not prejudice the accused.

        EXCEPTION: Unfavorable inference is drawn when:
        1. the prosecution has already established a prima facie case,
           the accused must present proof to overturn the evidence
        2. the defense of the accused is an alibi and he does not testify,
           the interference is that the alibi is not believable.

G. Right To Confront And Cross Examine Witnesses Against Him At Trial   (Right Of Confrontation)

      - It is the act of setting a witness face to face with the
        accused so that the latter may make any objection he has to
        the witness, and the witness may identify the accused, and
        this must take place in the presence of the court having
        jurisdiction to permit the privilege of cross examination.

   The main purpose of this right to confrontation is to secure the
   opportunity of cross examination and the second purpose is to enable
   the judge to observe the demeanor of the witness.

   By way of exception to this rule, it is provided that the court may
   utilize as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who is
   deceased, out of or with due diligence cannot be found in the
   Philippines, unavailable or otherwise unable to testify, given in
   another proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same
   parties and subject matter, the adverse party having had the
   opportunity to cross-examine him. (Rule 130, Sec 47)

   In any criminal proceeding, the defendant enjoys the right to have
   compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the
   production of evidence on his behalf.

   a. May be done expressly or impliedly.
   b. It is implied when the accused waives his right to be present at
      trial or when he was given the opportunity but fails to take
      advantage of it.

H. Right To Compulsory Process

   This is the right of the accused to have a subpoena and/or a
   subpoena duces tecum issued in his behalf in order to compel the
   attendance of witnesses and the production of other evidence.

   If a witness refuses to testify when required is in contempt of court.
   The court may order a witness to give bail or to be arrested.

I. Right To A Speedy, Impartial Public Trial

   The right to a speedy trial is intended to avoid oppression and to
   prevent delay by imposing on the courts and on the prosecution
   an obligation to proceed with reasonable dispatch.

   Facts Considered To Determine If Right To Speedy Trial Has Been Violated
   1. length of the delay
   2. reason for the delay
   3. the accused’s assertion or non assertion of the right
   4. prejudice to the accused resulting from the delay.

   Rules on Speedy Trial
      - The limitation of this right is that the State must not
        be deprived of its day in court and the right of the State and
        the prosecution of due process must be respected.

There is NO violation of the right where the delay is immutable to the accused. (Solis v. Agloro, 64 SCRA 370)

   The right to a speedy trial is violated when there are UNJUSTIFIED
   postponements (People v. Declaro, 170 SCRA 143)

   1. He should ask for the trial of the case, not the dismissal.
   2. Unreasonable delay of the trial of a criminal case as to make
      the detention of the defendant illegal gives ground for habeas
      corpus as a remedy for obtaining release as to avoid detention
      for a reasonable period of time.
   3. Accused would be entitled to relief in a mandamus proceeding to
      compel the dismissal of the information.
   4. ask for the trial of the case and then move to dismiss
     (Gandicela v. Lutero, 88 Phil. 790)

   Impartial Trial
      - Due process requires a hearing before an impartial and
        disinterested tribunal and that every litigant is entitled to
        nothing less that the cold neutrality of an impartial judge.
        (Mateo, Jr. v. VIllaluz, 50 SCRA 180)
        “Like Caesar’s wife, a judge must not be only pure but beyond
        suspicion.” (Palang v. Zosa, 58 SCRA 776)

   Public Trial
      - One held open or publicly; anyone interested in observing the
        way the judge conducts his proceedings in a courtroom may do
        so (Garcia v. Domingo, 52 SCRA 143) it is sufficient that
        relatives and friends who want to watch the proceedings are
        given the opportunity to witness the proceedings. It is done
        in public to prevent abuses that may be committed by the court
        and the accused is entitled to moral support from his friends
        and relatives. If it is done in the judges chambers, it is
        still valid because the public is not excluded.
        (Garcia v. Domingo, 52 SCRA 143)

   1. evidence to be produced is offensive to decency or public morals
   2. upon motion of the accused (Section 21, Rule 119)

   Rule on Trial by Publicity
      - The right of the accused to a fair trial is NOT incompatible
        to free press. Pervasive publicity is no per se as prejudicial
        to the right to a fair trial. To warrant the finding of
        prejudicial publicity, there must be allegations and proof
        that judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they
        might be due to the barrage of publicity. (People v. Teehankee,
        249 SCRA 54)

J. Right To Appeal On All Cases Allowed By Law And In The Manner  Prescribed By Law

   The right to appeal from a judgment of the conviction is
   fundamentally of statutory origin. It is not a matter of absolute
   right that is independent of constitutional or statutory provisions
   allowing such appeal.

   Waiver of Right to Appeal
      - The right to appeal is personal to the accused and it may be
        waved either expressly or by implication. HOWEVER, where the
        death penalty is imposed, such right cannot be waived as the
        review of the judgment by the SUPREME COURT is automatic and
        mandatory (A.M. No. 00-5-03 SC)

   Ozaeta v. CA, 179 SCRA 800 (1989)
      - Anyone who seeks to exercise the right to appeal must comply
        with the requirements of the rules. Otherwise the right to
        appeal is lost.

   People v. Ang Gioc, 74 Phil. 366 (1941)
      - When the accused flees, after the case has bee submitted to
        court for decision, he will be deemed to have waived his right
        to appeal from the judgment rendered against him.

        NOTE: such may no be reviewed by the CA.


      - The court SHALL order a pre-trial conference to
        consider the following:
        1. plea bargaining
        2. stipulation of facts
        3. marking and identification of evidence
        4. waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence
        5. such other matters as will promote a fair and
           expeditious trial

   Time Limit for Trial in Criminal Cases Shall not exceed 180 days
   from the first day of trial, however the rule is not absolute.
   1. those governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure
   2. where the penalty prescribed by law does NOT exceed 6 months
      imprisonment or a fine of P1,000 or both
   3. those authorized by the Chief Justice of the SC

   Period of Arraignment of Accused
      - Within 30 days from the filing of the information, or from the
        date the accused appealed before the justice/judge/court in
        which the charge is pending, whichever date last occurs.

   When Shall Trial Commence After Arraignment
      - Within 30 days from arraignment, HOWEVER, it may be extended
        BUT only:
        1. for the 180 days for the first 12 calendar month period
           from the effectivity of the law
        2. 120 days for the second 12 month period
        3. 80 days for the third 12 month period