Last night, a group of police officers went to my best friend’s house and invited him to go to the police station. When he refused, they threatened him with lawsuits. May I ask if a person may legally refuse the invitation of police officers to go to the police station?
Yes, your best friend may refuse the invitation of the police officers to go to the police station. There is no law that obliges a person to accept such an invitation except when the police officers were armed with lawful warrant of arrest. In such a case, however, although the police officers may use the word “invitation,” they are not really inviting a person to the police station but rather enforcing the order of a judge to take a person in custody.
Please note though that the invitation per se made by the police officer is not illegal. It can be safely assumed that the main purpose of police officers in inviting a person is to ask questions concerning an alleged crime. It can be viewed that the invitation made is in connection with the mandate and duty of police authorities to investigate a crime.
Nonetheless, without a valid warrant of arrest, your best friend is at liberty to decline such invitation. He may freely go with the police officers and cooperate with them should he choose to do so.
The Supreme Court recognized that there are cases where the invitation by the police officer is used as a guise to effect a warrantless arrest. It arises when the person invited is suspected and investigated as a perpetrator of the crime and is asked incriminating questions. In one case where a person went to the police station upon invitation and later police officers investigated him for allegedly committing a crime, the Supreme Court in the case of People of the Philippines vs Rafael Olivares (GR 77865, Dec. 4, 1998), penned by Associate Justice Vicente Mendoza, declared that such invitation is equivalent to arrest. It is covered by the proscription on a warrantless arrest because it is intended for no other reason than to conduct an investigation, to wit:
“Mere invitation is covered by the proscription on a warrantless arrest because it is intended for no other reason than to conduct an investigation. Thus, pursuant to Section 4(2), Article IV of the 1973 Constitution which was in effect at that time, “any evidence” obtained in violation of their right under Section 3, Article IV (pertaining to invalid warrantless arrests) “shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.”
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. 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 email@example.com