Section 16. Trial of several accused
When two or more defendants are jointly charged with any offense, they
shall be tried jointly, unless the court, in its discretion upon motion
of the prosecution or any of the defendants, orders a separate trial.
The motion for separate trial must be filed BEFORE the commencement
of the trial and cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.
If a separate trial is granted, the testimony of one accused imputing
the crime to his co-accused is not admissible against the latter.
It would be admissible if the latter had the opportunity for
Where the conditions are fulfilled, joint trial is automatic, without
need for the trial court to issue an order to that effect.
The grant of separate trial rests in the sound discretion of the court
and is not a matter of right to the accused, especially where it is
sought after the presentation of the evidence of the prosecution. In
such separate trial, only the accused presenting evidence has to be
present. And the evidence to be adduced by each accused should not be
considered as evidence against the other accused.
When a separate trial is demanded and granted, it is the duty of the
prosecution to repeat and produce all its evidence at each and every
trial, unless it has been agreed by the parties that the evidence for
the prosecution would not have to be repeated at the second trial and
all the accused had been present during the presentation of the
evidence of the prosecution and their lawyer had the opportunity to
cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution.
People v. Ellasos and Obillo, G.R. No. 139323 (2001)
- The trial judge gravely erred in rendering a judgment of
conviction against both accused. Since the trial of B did not
take place, the trial court should have rendered a decision only
Section 17. Discharge of accused to be state witness
- One of two or more persons jointly charged with the commission of
a crime but who is discharged with his consent as such accused so
that he may be a witness for the state.