Legalese 2009 (Week 17)


Right against double jeopardy – when a person is charged with an offense and the case is terminated either by acquittal or conviction or in any manner without the express consent of the accused, the latter cannot again be charged with the same or identical offense.


No person shall be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.  If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.  (Constitution, art. III, sec. 21)


A judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory upon rendition and entitles the accused to be released; hence, it may no longer be amended or corrected by the court except for clerical errors or mistakes. To amend or alter the judgment would placed the accused in double jeopardy. The government has no right to appeal from a judgment of acquittal for the appeal would put the accused in second jeopardy for the same offense (see Philippine Constitutional Law [2003], vol. 1, p. 955, 958 citing People vs. CFI of Rizal, 161 SCRA 249 (1988) and Central Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 171 SCRA 49 (1989)].


After 6 postponements, 4 of which were mutually agreed upon by the parties and covering a period of more than 3 years, the prosecutor failed to appear at the scheduled hearing.  When the prosecutor still failed to appear after an hour, the trial court provisionally dismissed the case on motion of  the defense counsel.  Did the order amount to an acquittal and bar reinstatement of the criminal case by reason of double jeopardy? (see Philippine Constitutional Law [2003], vol. 1, p. 986).