Criminal Law

US vs. VICENTILLO G.R. No. L-6082 March 18, 1911 19 PHIL 118 Lawful or Insuperable Cause, Illegal and Arbitrary Detention

FACTS:

The defendant in this case was found guilty in the court below of the crime of “illegal and arbitrary detention” of the complaining witness for a period of three days.

However, it was conclusively proven at the trial that at the time of the arrest neither the local justice of the peace nor his auxiliary were in the municipality, and to reach the justice of the peace of either of the two adjoining municipalities, it was necessary to take a long journey by boat.

The prisoner was forwarded first to one and then to the other of the adjoining municipalities for trial, the failure to secure trial on the first occasion being due to the fact that the written complaint, which was entrusted to the policeman in charge of the prisoner, was either lost or stolen.

ISSUE:

Whether the failure to perform the act required by law was caused by some justifiable grounds.

RULING:

It may be that the defendant was not friendly to the arrested man, and that he was not sorry to see him exposed to considerable inconvenience and delay in the proceedings incident to his trial, but there is nothing in this record upon which to base a finding that his defendant caused the arrest and the subsequent detention of the prisoner otherwise than in the due performance of his official duties; and there can be no doubt of his lawful authority in the premises.

Keeping in mind the fact that there was no judicial officer in the remote community where the incident occurred at the time of the arrest, and no certainty of the early return of the absent justice of the peace, or his auxiliary, we are not prepared to hold, in the absence of all the evidence on this point that in a particular case of a defiance of local authority by the willful violation of a local ordinance, it was not necessary, or at least expedient, to make an arrest and send the offender forthwith to the justice of the peace of a neighboring municipality, if only to convince all would-be offenders that the forces of law and order were supreme, even in the absence of the local municipal judicial officers.

We are of opinion that under all the circumstances of this case there can be no doubt of the lawful authority of the defendant, in the exercise of his functions as municipal president, to make arrest of the complaining witness which resulted in his alleged unlawful detention.

The judgment of the lower court convicting and sentencing the defendant must be reversed and he is hereby acquitted of the offense with which he is charged.

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