WHAT IS WARRANTLESS ARREST?

Posted on Saturday, December 26, 2009. Filed under: PHILIPPINE LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE | Tags: , , , , |

A deviation to the general rule that no person may be arrested without warrant of arrest is found on Rule 113, Rule 115 of the Rules or Court. Said law enumerates the instances when arrest without warrant is lawful (also called a warrant less arrest), to wit:

  1. When, in the presence of the arresting officer or individual, the person to be arrested HAS COMMITTED, IS ACTUALLY COMMITTING, OR IS ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT A CRIME;

This arrest is termed under the law as in flagrante delicto (“caught in the act”) arrest. This means that if the arresting officer or individual has “caught in the act” the suspect of committing a crime for instance, he can arrest the suspect even without the needed warrant of arrest. This kind of arrest is best exemplified in a “buy-bust” operation

  1. When an offense has in fact just been committed, and the arresting officer or individual has probable cause to believe based on PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE of facts and circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and,

This is also called “doctrine of hot pursuit”. Unlike the circumstances enumerated in the preceding item, the arresting officer or individual did not see the actual commission of the crime by the suspect. However, he can still arrest the suspect if 1) the offender just committed the crime AND 2) the arresting officer has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of fact and circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.

Personal knowledge is something that which will make the arresting believe that a person has committed a crime and thus needs to be arrested. Personal knowledge can be acquired from the testimonies or statements of eyewitnesses in a crime that was committed describing the perpetrator and his direction after the commission of the crime. If after a follow-up operation the arresting officer found the suspect, he can arrest the suspect even without warrant of arrest.

However, take note of the word “just” in the rule. The word “just” means that the arrest should be done immediately after the commission of the crime in order for the arrest under this rule will be valid. If not, a warrant of arrest should already be secured before the suspect could be arrested. What is immediate is left on the discretion of the court. However, a Supreme Court decision states that the warrant less arrest of the suspect only three hours after the commission of the crime was held valid People v. Gerente, 219 SCRA 756 while another SC decision states that warrant less arrest after two (2) days after the discovery of the crime was held unlawful (People vs. Olivarez, G.R. No. 77865, December 5, 1998).

3. When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

Other instance of warrantless arrests

  1. Where a person who has been lawfully arrested escapes or is rescued (Sec 13, Rule 113, Rules of Court).
  2. By the bondman for the purpose of surrendering the accused (Sec 23, Rule 114, Rules of Court) and,
  3. Where the accused attempts to leave the country without permission of the court (Sec 23, Rule 114, Rules of Court)

What is a citizen arrest?

Warrant less arrest can be effected by a private individual giving the term citizen arrest. A warrant less arrest can also be termed as citizen arrest since it can be effected by private individuals or citizens.

Duty of the arresting officer or individual after a warrantless arrest

Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code requires the arresting officer or individual to deliver to the proper judicial authorities a person arrested and detained by virtue of warrant less arrest within the prescribed hours:

  1. 12 hours for offenses punishable by light penalties or their equivalent;
  2. 18 hours for offenses punishable by correctional penalties or their equivalent; and
  3. 36 hours for offenses punishable by afflictive penalties or their equivalent.

“Deliver to the proper judicial authorities” simply means that appropriate charges should be filed in court against the accused and thus it should be within the prescribed hours mentioned depending upon the gravity of the offense committed.

If after the prescribed hours, the arresting officer who is a public officer or employee did not file charges against the suspect within the ambit of Article 125, he can be charged for “delay in the delivery of the proper persons to the proper judicial authorities” under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. If the arresting person is a private individual, the charged can be “illegal detention” under Article 267 of the revised Penal Code.

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