Are applications for probation of an accused who was sentenced to an imprisonment automatically granted by the court? If granted, how long will the offender be placed on probation?
Probation is defined as a disposition under which a defendant, after conviction and sentence, is released subject to conditions imposed by the court and to the supervision of a probation officer (Section 3(A), Presidential Decree (PD) 968). By probation, a qualified offender will not serve his sentence in jail, but will only be subjected to a community-based rehabilitation or reformation program.
Not all applications for probation, however, are automatically granted by the court. In determining whether an applicant may be granted probation, the court takes into consideration all the information relative to the character, antecedents, environment, mental and physical condition of the offender and available institutional and community resources. It shall deny the application for probation of a convicted offender if it finds that: 1) the offender is in need of correctional treatment that can be provided most effectively by his commitment to an institution; 2) there is an undue risk that during the period of probation the offender will commit another crime; or 3) probation will depreciate the seriousness of the offense committed (Section 8, PD 968).
In addition, the benefit of probation shall also not be granted to the following disqualified offenders: 1) those who have been sentenced to serve a maximum term of imprisonment of more than six (6) years; 2) those who are convicted of subversion or any crime against the national security or the public order; 3) those who have previously been convicted by final judgment of an offense punished by imprisonment of not less than one month and one day and/or a fine of not less than two hundred pesos; 4) those who have been once on probation under the provisions of this decree; and 5) those who are already serving sentence at the time the substantive provisions of this decree became applicable pursuant to Section 33 hereof (Section 9, Ibid.)
Regarding your second question, the period within which a person may be placed on probation shall depend on the term of imprisonment handed by the court. The period of probation for those who are sentenced to imprisonment of not more than one (1) year shall not exceed two (2) years and, in all other cases, the period shall not exceed six (6) years (Section 14, Id.)
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com