Suing estafa complainant may trigger endless litigation

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,

May I file a case for malicious prosecution against a complainant who has accused me of the crime of estafa, and whose complaint was dismissed by the prosecutor?

MK
Dear MK,

A criminal complaint filed at the Office of the Prosecutor undergoes investigation by a prosecutor to determine if there is a probable cause to hold the respondent for trial in court. The investigating prosecutor shall dismiss the complaint, if, based on the evidence presented by the complainant, he is not convinced that the respondent should be held for trial (Section 3 and Section 4, Rule 112, Rules of Court).

It has been settled in our jurisprudence that Malicious Prosecution is “an action for damages brought by one against whom a criminal prosecution, civil suit, or other legal proceeding has been instituted maliciously and without probable cause, after the termination of such prosecution, suit, or other proceeding in favor of the defendant therein. To constitute “malicious prosecution,” there must be proof that the prosecution was prompted by a sinister design to vex or humiliate a person, and that it was initiated deliberately by the defendant knowing that his charges were false and ground-less. Concededly, the mere act of submitting a case to the authorities for prosecution does not make one liable for malicious prosecution. Malicious prosecution, both in criminal and civil cases, requires the elements of (1) malice and (2) absence of probable cause (Yasoña, et.al. v. De Ramo G.R. No. 156339, October 6, 2004).

You may file for a case for malicious prosecution against the person who filed a complaint for estafa against you if you have sufficient proof that he has initiated the complaint knowing that his charges were false and groundless. As stated, you must satisfy the prosecution that the filing of the case against you was made with malice.

However, we discourage you from filing further a case against the complainant arising from the complaint for estafa filed against you for this will only open the possibility of endless litigation between you. We have noted that the said complaint was already dismissed thereby proving that the investigating prosecutor found no sufficient evidence to hold you for trial in court for estafa.

We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are elaborated therein.

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