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Warrant of Arrest


Sec. 5. When warrant of arrest may issue. (a) By the Regional Trial Court. — Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused has already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who conducted the preliminary investigation or when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to section 6 of this Rule. In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the complaint of information.

(b) By the Municipal Trial Court. — When required pursuant to the second paragraph of section 1 of this Rule, the preliminary investigation of cases falling under the original jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court SHALL be conducted by the prosecutor. The procedure for the issuance of a warrant or arrest by the judge shall be governed by paragraph (a) of this section. 

(c) When warrant of arrest not necessary. — A warrant of arrest shall not issue if the accused is already under detention pursuant to a warrant issued by the municipal trial court in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section, or if the complaint or information was filed pursuant to section 6 of this Rule or is for an offense penalized by fine only. The court shall then proceed in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. 


NOTES:

What is a warrant of arrest?

A warrant of arrest is a legal process issued by competent authority, directing the arrest of a person or persons upon grounds stated therein.


When can the court issue a warrant of arrest? What is the procedure for the issuance of a warrant of arrest?

A. By the Regional Trial Court

For all RTC cases, a warrant of arrest will naturally issue if there is probable cause.

1.  Within 10 days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence.  

2.  He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause.

3. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest or a commitment order if the accused is already under detention.  

4.  In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within 5 days from notice and the issue must be resolved within 30 days from the filing of the complaint or information. (Sec. 5 (a), Rule 112, Rules of Court)


B. By the Municipal Trial Court

PI - For those cases that require preliminary investigation (offenses with a penalty of at least 4 years 2 months and 1 day), follow the same procedure above.  (Sec. 5 (b), Rule 112, Rules of Court)

No PI - For cases not requiring a preliminary investigation and not falling under Summary Procedure, the issuance of a warrant of arrest is subject to the discretion of the court. 

1. If within 10 days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge finds no probable cause after personally examining the evidence in writing and under oath of the complainant and his witnesses in the form of searching questions and answers, he shall dismiss the complaint or information.

2.  He may require the submission or additional evidence within 10 days from notice. If he still finds no probable cause, he shall dismiss the case within 10 days from its submission or expiration of said period.

3. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest or a commitment order and hold him for trial. If he thinks that there is no necessity for placing the accused under custody, he may issue summons instead of a warrant of arrest. (Sec. 8 (b), Rule 112, Rules of Court)

Note: The procedure is basically the same except that the issuance of a warrant is subject to the discretion of the court. The court may issue summons instead of a warrant of arrest.


When is a warrant of arrest not necessary? What are the instances when the court need not issue a warrant of arrest?

1. When the accused is already under detention pursuant to a warrant issued by the MTC in accordance with paragraph [b] of Section 5. - If the MTC issues a warrant of arrest and later on the case reaches the RTC, there is no need for the RTC to issue another warrant because there is already a warrant issued by the MTC. And as a matter of fact, the accused has already been detained.

2. When the accused was arrested by virtue of a lawful arrest without warrant. - If the accused was lawfully arrested without a warrant, the prosecutor will only conduct an inquest proceedings. There is no need to issue a warrant because the accused is already under detention. The court will just issue a commitment order just to confirm the detention of the accused.

3. When the penalty is a fine only. - There are crimes where there is no penalty for imprisonment but only fine like damage to property through reckless imprudence. Based on the rules, there is no need for a warrant, just an order to appear is sufficient.

4. In cases covered by summary procedure.  


Are “John Doe” warrants valid?

Generally, John Doe warrants are void because they violate the constitutional provision that requires that warrants of arrest should particularly describe the person or persons to be arrested.  But if there is sufficient description to identify the person to be arrested, then the warrant is valid.


What are the remedies of a party against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued?

1.  post bail
2.  ask for reinvestigation
3.  petition for review
4.  motion to quash the information
5.  if denied, appeal the judgment after trial


Is the finding of a judge that probable cause exists for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest subject to judicial review?

No.  It would be asking the court to examine and assess such evidence as has been submitted by the parties before trial and on the basis thereof, make a conclusion as whether or not it suffices to establish the guilt of the accused.


What are the principles governing the finding of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest?

1. There is a distinction between the objective of determining probable cause by the prosecutor and by the judge.  The prosecutor determines it for the purpose of filing a complaint or information, while the judge determines it for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest – whether there is a necessity of placing him under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice.

2. Since their objectives are different, the judge should not rely solely on the report of the prosecutor in finding probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant of arrest.  The judge must decide independently and must have supporting evidence other than the prosecutor’s bare report.

3. It is not required that the complete or entire records of the case during the preliminary investigation be submitted to and examined by the judge.  He must have sufficient supporting documents upon which to make his independent judgment.


Will the MTC issue a warrant under the Rule on Summary Procedure? 

NO. The MTC will only issue a warrant of arrest if despite notice, you repeatedly absented yourself during the trial.


Can a prosecutor issue a warrant of arrest?

NO. Issuance of a warrant of arrest is a judicial function; it is not a function the Executive branch.

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