Consuelo Aliga was charged for the crime of Qualified Theft thru Falsification of Commercial Document allegedly committed by her being then an accountant of Dentrade Inc., who had access to the company’s checking accounts. She was accused of stealing from complainant’s office a check in the amount of P5,000.00, falsified the amount by changing it to ₱65,000.00 and encashed it with the bank, thereafter misappropriated and converted to her own personal use the amount of ₱60,000.00.
During trial before the RTC, both the prosecution and the defense were able to present the testimonies of their witnesses and their respective documentary exhibits.
The RTC was convinced that the evidence presented constituted proof beyond reasonable doubt and convicted Aliga. However, the judgment was reversed and set aside by the CA.
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by the CA. Hence, this petition.
Whether or not a judgment of acquittal is appealable.
The petition is unmeritorious.
A judgment of acquittal may be assailed only in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
If the petition, regardless of its nomenclature, merely calls for an ordinary review of the findings of the court a quo, the constitutional right of the accused against double jeopardy would be violated.
Section 1, Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Court, provides that any party may appeal from a judgment or final order “unless the accused will thereby be placed in double jeopardy.”
The judgment that may be appealed by the aggrieved party envisaged in the Rule is a judgment convicting the accused, and not a judgment of acquittal. The State is barred from appealing such judgment of acquittal by a petition for review.
A judgment of acquittal may be assailed by the People in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court without placing the accused in double jeopardy. However, in such case, the People is burdened to establish that the court a quo acted without jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion generally refers to capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction.
The case does not fall within the exception to rule on double jeopardy
Indeed, a judgment of acquittal, whether ordered by the trial or the appellate court, is final, unappealable, and immediately executory upon its promulgation.
However, the rule against double jeopardy is not without exceptions, which are: (1) Where there has been deprivation of due process and where there is a finding of a mistrial, or (2) Where there has been a grave abuse of discretion under exceptional circumstances. Unfortunately for petitioner, We find that these exceptions do not exist in this case.
Upon perusal of the records, it is Our considered view that the conclusions arrived at by the CA cannot, by any measure, be characterized as capricious, whimsical or arbitrary.