Arraignment and Plea

Section 1.

- It means for bringing the accused into court and informing him of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.

How Arraignment is made:
1. In open court where the complaint or information has been filed or assigned for trial.
2. By the judge or clerk of court
3. By furnishing the accused with a copy of the complaint or information
4. Reading it in a language or dialect known to the accused
5. Asking accused whether he pleads guilty or not guilty

When Arraignment Should be Held
 - Accused should be arraigned within 30 days from the date the court acquires jurisdiction over his person, unless a shorter period is provided for by law. The time of the pendency of a motion to quash or a bill of particulars or other causes justifying suspension of arraignment shall be excluded in computing the period.

When Arraignment Is Held Within A Shorter Period:
1. When an accused is under preventive detention, his case should be raffled within 3 days from filing and accused shall be arraigned within 10 days from receipt by the judge of the records of the case (RA 8493 Speedy Trial Act)
2. Where the complainant is about to depart from the Philippines with no definite date of return, the accused should be arraigned without delay (RA 4908)
3. Cases under RA 7610 (Child Abuse Act), the trial shall be commenced within 3 days from arraignment
4. Cases under the Dangerous Drugs Act
5. Cases under SC AO 104-96, i.e., heinous crimes, violations of the Intellectual Property Rights Law, these cases must be tried continuously until terminated within 60 days from commencement of the trial and to be decided within 30 days from the submission of the case.

Notes on Arraignment:

Trial in absentia may be conducted only after valid arraignment.

Accused must personally appear during arraignment and enter his plea (counsel cannot enter plea for accused)

Accused is presumed to have been validly arraigned in the absence of proof to the contrary.

Generally, judgment is void if accused has not been validly arraigned

If accused went into trial without being arraigned, subsequent arraignment will cure the error provided that the accused was able to present evidence and cross-examine the witnesses of the prosecution during trial.

When A Plea Of “Not Guilty” Should Be Entered:
1. When accused so pleaded
2. When he refuses to plead
3. When he makes a conditional or qualified plea of guilt (Ex. Accused pleads guilty but adds “pero hindi ko sinasadya”)
4. When the plea is indefinite or ambiguous
5. When he pleads guilty but presents exculpatory evidence (ex. Evidence to prove complete self-defense)

NOTE: if the accused who pleaded guilty presents exculpatory evidence, his plea of guilty is withdrawn. The judge must order the accused to plead again or at least direct that a new plea of “not guilty” be entered for him, otherwise there shall be no standing plea for the
accused. This is significant because if there is no standing plea, the accused cannot invoke double jeopardy later on.

Presence of Offended Party
- The private offended party is required to appear in the arraignment for the purpose of plea bargaining, determination of civil liability and other matters requiring his presence.

In case the offended party fails to appear despite due notice, the trial court may allow the accused to plead guilty to a lesser offense necessarily included in the offense charged with the conformity of the trial prosecutor alone.

Criminal Procedure Definition of Terms
Rules of Criminal Procedure