Remedial Law

SANVICENTE vs. PEOPLE G.R. No. 132081. November 26, 2002 Appeal, Demurrer to Evidence, Finality-of-acquittal rule

FACTS:

Petitioner was charged with homicide for killing the victim Wong after the latter allegedly attempted to rob him of a large amount of cash which he had just withdrawn from the automatic teller machine. Petitioner filed a demurrer to evidence after the prosecution adduced its evidence and rested its case. The trial court subsequently dismissed the case after finding that the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to support the charge against petitioner.

ISSUE:

Can a judgment of acquittal be challenged on appeal?

RULING:

NO. Significantly, once the court grants the demurrer, such order amounts to an acquittal and any further prosecution of the accused would violate the constitutional proscription on double jeopardy. This constitutes an exception to the rule that the dismissal of a criminal case made with the express consent of the accused or upon his own motion bars a plea of double jeopardy.

It is axiomatic that on the basis of humanity, fairness and justice, an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of repose as a direct consequence of the finality of his acquittal. The philosophy underlying this rule establishing the absolute nature of acquittals is “part of the paramount importance criminal justice system attaches to the protection of the innocent against wrongful conviction.”

The interest in the finality-of-acquittal rule, confined exclusively to verdicts of not guilty, is easy to understand: it is a need for “repose”, a desire to know the exact extent of one’s liability. With this right of repose, the criminal justice system has built in a protection to insure that the innocent, even those whose innocence rests upon a jury’s leniency, will not be found guilty in a subsequent proceeding.

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