• Innocent until proven guilty

    1
    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I see a lot of drug-related incidents in the news lately. I am just wondering if someone reported for violation of the laws on drugs, for instance the illegal sale of drugs, can be held immediately liable. How should the complainant effectively establish the guilt of the person complained of? I have no legal background and would appreciate your enlightenment.
    Jayson

    Dear Jayson,
    Any person facing a complaint for the commission of a crime punishable under existing laws is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. This guarantee is enshrined under the provisions of our Constitution. As provided for under Section 14, Article III of the 1987 Constitution: “(1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law. (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. x x x”

    Thus, a person who is accused of violating any of the provisions of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, enjoys the same presumption of innocence. He may not be held immediately liable for the crime imputed to him. Rather, proper investigation will be made and a trial will ensue before the court if probable cause is found. The accused may only be made criminally liable therefor if the prosecution has established by clear and convincing evidence that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

    We want to emphasize that in situations where a person is accused of the commission of the crime of illegal sale of prohibited or dangerous drugs, the following elements must be clearly shown to successfully prosecute him: “x x x (1) Identity of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor. What is material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti of evidence. x x x” (People vs. Zapata, 659 SCRA 691)
    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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    1 Comment

    1. Armando Villarante on

      1. A trial will ensue before the court if probable cause is found. Can you “please explain what is the meaning of “Probable Cause”?

      2. The accused may only be made criminally liable therefor if the prosecution has established by clear and convincing evidence that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Can you please explain what is the meaning of “Beyond Reasonable Doubt?

      3. Also, please explain what is the meaning of “Mitigating Reasons”.