Who Must Prosecute Criminal Actions
Full Discretion and Control of the Prosecutor
- All criminal actions commenced by complaint of information
shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the
The institution of a criminal action depends upon the sound
discretion of the prosecutor. But once the case is already filed
in court, the same can no longer be withdrawn or dismissed without
the tribunal’s approval. Should the prosecutor find it proper to
conduct a reinvestigation of the case at such stage, the permission
of the Court must be secured (Crespo v. Mogul).
May a criminal prosecution be restrained by injunction?
GENERAL RULE: No
REASON: Public interest requires that criminal acts
be immediately investigated and prosecuted for the
protection of society.
EXCEPTIONS WHERE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION MAY BE RESTRAINED BY
1. where injunction is justified by the necessity to
afford protection to the constitutional rights of
2. when necessary for the orderly administration
of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity
3. when there is a prejudicial question which is
4. when the acts of the officer are without or in
excess of authority
5. where the prosecution is under an invalid law,
ordinance or regulation
6. when double jeopardy is clearly apparent
7. where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense
8. where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution
9. where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by
the lust for vengeance
10. when there is clearly no prima facie case against the
accused and the motion to quash on that ground has
11. preliminary injunction has been issued by the Supreme
Court to prevent the threatened unlawful arrest of petitioners.
Prior to the filing of the information in court, the prosecutor
has full control of the case. He decides who should be charged
in court and who should be excluded from the information.
DECISION OF THE PROSECUTOR SUBJECT TO REVIEW BY:
- the Secretary of Justice who exercises supervision and
control over his actions and who may sustain, modify or
set aside his resolution on the matter
- in appropriate cases, by the courts when he acts with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
Private Prosecutor Participation:
- May a public prosecutor allow a private prosecutor to
actively handle the conduct of the trial? Yes, where
the civil action arising from the crime is deemed
instituted in the criminal action.
Public Prosecutor must be present during the proceedings and must
take over the conduct of the trial from the private prosecutor
at any time the cause of the prosecution may be adversely affected.
Thus, where the prosecutor has turned over the active conduct of
the trial to the private prosecutor who presented testimonial
evidence even when the public prosecutor was absent during the
trial, the evidence presented could not be considered valid
evidence of the People.
However: this rule applies only to courts which are provided by
law with prosecutors, and not to municipal courts which have
no trial prosecutors, in which case the evidence presented by
the private prosecutor can be considered as evidence for the
- In appeals, the Sol. Gen. has control. He may abandon or
discontinue the prosecution of the case in the exercise of
his sound discretion and may even recommend the acquittal
of an accused when he believes that the evidence does not
warrant his conviction.
EXCEPTION: provided for in RA 8249 which states in part
that “in all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from
the SB to the SC, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its
special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the
Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to EO Nos. 1,
2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.”
When it is said that the requirement of Art. 344 of RPC is
jurisdictional, what is meant is that it is the complaint that
starts the prosecutory proceeding. It is not the complaint which
confers jurisdiction on the court to try the case.
People v. Yparraguire, G. R. No. 124391 (2000)
- Even when a complaint is defective for being signed and
filed by the chief of police and not by the complainant,
the court may still acquire jurisdiction over the case.
The complaint required in Art. 344 of the RPC is but a
condition precedent to the exercise by the proper authorities
of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. The complaint
simply starts the prosecutory proceeding but does not confer
jurisdiction in the court to try the case. Art. 344 is not
determinative of the jurisdiction of courts over private
offenses because the same is governed by the
Judiciary Law and not the RPC.
Once the complaint is filed, does death of the complainant in a
crime of adultery extinguish the criminal liability of the accused? No.
- The participation of the offended party in private crimes is
essential not for the maintenance of the criminal action but
solely for the initiation thereof. Any pardon given by the
complainant or her death after the filing of the complaint
would not deprive the court of the jurisdiction to try the case.
REMEDIES OF THE OFFENDED PARTY IF THE PROSECUTOR
REFUSES TO FILE AN INFORMATION:
1. File an action for mandamus, in case of grave abuse of discretion
2. Lodge a new complaint before; the court having jurisdiction
over the offense;
3. Take up the matter with the Secretary of Justice in accordance
with the Administrative Code;
4. Institute administrative charges against erring prosecutor; and
5. File criminal action against the prosecutor with the
corresponding civil action for damages.
PROSECUTION OF PRIVATE CRIMES
Who may prosecute?
1. Concubinage and adultery – only by the offended spouse who
should have the status, capacity and legal representation at
the time of filing of the complaint regardless of age; Both
guilty parties must be included in the complaint; The offended
party did not consent to the offense nor pardoned the offenders.
2. Seduction, Abduction and Acts of Lasciviousness – prosecuted
exclusively and successively by the following persons in this
a. By the offended woman;
b. By the parents, grandparents or legal/judicial guardians
in that successive order, if the offended party is a
minor or of age but suffers from physical or mental
c. By the State pursuant to the doctrine of parens patriae,
when the offended party dies or becomes incapacitated
before she could file the complaint and she has no
known parents, grandparents or guardians.
3. A defamation imputing to a person any of the foregoing crimes
of concubinage, adultery, seduction, abduction, rape or acts
of lasciviousness can be prosecuted only by the party or parties
defamed (Article 360, last paragraph, Revised Penal Code).
NOTE: If the offended party is of legal age and does not suffer
from physical or mental disability, she alone can file the
complaint to the exclusion of all.
Who can give pardon?
1. Concubinage and adultery – only the offended spouse not
otherwise incapacitated, can validly extend the pardon or
consent contemplated therein.
2. Seduction, abduction and acts of lasciviousness -
a. the offended minor, if with sufficient discretion can
validly pardon the accused by herself if she has no parents
or where the accused is her own father and her mother is dead
b. the parents, grandparents or guardian of the offended minor,
in that order, cannot extend a valid pardon in said crimes
without the conformity of the offended party, even if the
latter is a minor;
c. if the offended woman is of age and not otherwise
incapacitated, only she can extend a valid pardon.
The pardon refers to pardon BEFORE filing of the criminal complaint
in court. Pardon effected after the filing of the complaint in
court does not prohibit the continuance of the prosecution of
the offense EXCEPT in case of marriage between the offender
and the offended party.
Pardon and Consent
1. Pardon - Refers to past acts of adultery.
Consent - Refers to future acts
2. Pardon - In order to absolve the accused from liability
must be extended to both offenders.
Consent - In order to absolve the accused from liability, it
is sufficient even if granted only to the offending spouse.
The SUBSEQUENT MARRIAGE between the party and the accused
extinguishes the criminal liability of the latter, together with
that of the co-principals, accomplices and accessories, Except:
a. Where the marriage was invalid or contracted in bad faith in
order to escape criminal liability.
b. In “private libel” or the libelous imputation of the
commission of the crimes of concubinage, adultery, seduction,
abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness and in slander
c. In multiple rape, insofar as the other accused in the other
acts of rape respectively committed by them are concerned.
NOTE: The acquittal or death of one of the accused in the crime
of adultery does not bar the prosecution of the other accused
(People v. Topiño, 35 Phil 901).
However, the death of the offended spouse before the filing of
the complaint for adultery bars further prosecution, BUT if the
offended spouse died after the filing of the corresponding
complaint, his death will not prevent the proceeding from
continuing to its ultimate conclusion.
Effect of Desistance of Complainant It does not bar the People
from prosecuting the criminal action. BUT: it does operate as a
waiver of the right to pursue civil indemnity.
An offended party in a criminal case has sufficient personality
to file a special civil action for certiorari, in proper cases,
even without the imprimatur of the State. In so doing, the
complainant should not bring the action in the name of the
People of the Philippines. The action may be prosecuted in the
name of the said complainant (Perez v. Hagonoy Rural Bank,
Inc. 327 SCRA 588).