My uncle was arrested without a warrant of arrest. Is this legal?
The Rules of Court defines arrest as the taking of a person into custody so that he may be made to answer for the commission of an offense (Section 1, Rule 113, Rules of Court). Considering that arrest involves deprivation of one’s liberty, the Constitution mandates that no one shall be deprived of the same without due process of law (Section 1, Article III, 1987 Constitution). As such, arrests, as a rule, shall be made with a warrant which is validly issued by a judge. However, there are instances when a person may be arrested even without a warrant of arrest. These are provided in Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Section 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
a. When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
b. When an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and
c. 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 is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112. (5a)
If any of the following are present, your uncle may be validly arrested even without warrant. On the other hand, if none of these is present, a person may be arrested only if there is a warrant of arrest issued against him by a judge. To be valid, a warrant of arrest shall comply with the following requisites: 1) It must be based upon probable cause; 2) The probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; 3) The determination must be made after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce; and 4) It must particularly describe the person to be arrested (Constitutional Law by Isagani Cruz (2000 Edition), page 142).
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