• Case of violence vs live-in partner can only be filed in place where offense happens


    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    Adrian was my live-in partner for five years, and we settled somewhere in Nueva Ecija. Our relationship ran smoothly in the early stage until Adrian became a drunkard and gambler. He hit me every time he was intoxicated or whenever he lost in cockfighting. I endured such situation until I felt I was already fed up. I left him last month, and I am now hiding here in Caloocan City. I want him to be incarcerated for the abuses I suffered but I want the case to be filed here in Caloocan, not in Nueva Ecija. Is this possible?

    Dear Amber,
    The abuses you suffered from Adrian may be considered as acts of violence against women that are punishable under Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004. Pursuant to Section 3 (a), violence against women refers to “any acts or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or are likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Xxx xxx xxx.” Under the same provision of the law, abuses against women are classified as physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and economic abuse.

    Penal laws and special penal laws like RA 9262 are territorial in character. This means that they can be enforced only in the place where the crime or any of its elements occurred. In your case, the complaint for violence against women can be filed before the appropriate court that exercises jurisdiction over the place where the offense was committed. From the facts you have narrated, the case may be filed in Nueva Ecija, not in Caloocan City, because the offense or any of its elements thereof does not appear to have occurred in Caloocan; thus, the courts there have no jurisdiction over the offense committed. This finds support under Section 15 (a), Rule 110 of the 1997 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which states that “subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred.”

    Section 7 of RA 9262 states that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) designated as Family Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against women and their children under this law. In the absence of such court in the place where the offense was committed, the case shall be filed in the RTC where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant.

    Applying these provisions of the law and rule in your case, the complaint for violations of RA 9262 shall be filed before the appropriate Family Court in Nueva Ecija, because the courts there have jurisdiction over the offense committed. If, however, you want to file the complaint in Caloocan, you need to prove that the act of violence, or any of the elements thereof, was also committed in that place.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts 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 dearpao@manilatimes.net


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