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Criminal Procedure: Rule 119 - Trial


RULE 119
Trial

Section 1. Time to prepare for trial. — After a plea of not guilty is entered, the accused shall have at least fifteen (15) days to prepare for trial. The trial shall commence within thirty (30) days from receipt of the pre-trial order. 

Section 2. Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. — Trial once commenced shall continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated. It may be postponed for a reasonable period of time for good cause.

The court shall, after consultation with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set the case for continuous trial on a weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the earliest possible time so as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty (180) days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court. 

The time limitations provided under this section and the preceding section shall not apply where special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court provide for a shorter period of trial. 

Section 3. Exclusions. — The following periods of delay shall be excluded in computing the time within which trial must commence:

(a) Any period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the accused, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Delay resulting from an examination of the physical and mental condition of the accused;

(2) Delay resulting from proceedings with respect to other criminal charges against the accused;

(3) Delay resulting from extraordinary remedies against interlocutory orders;

(4) Delay resulting from pre-trial proceedings; provided, that the delay does not exceed thirty (30) days;

(5) Delay resulting from orders of inhibition, or proceedings relating to change of venue of cases or transfer from other courts;

(6) Delay resulting from a finding of the existence of a prejudicial question; and

(7) Delay reasonably attributable to any period, not exceed thirty (30) days, during which any proceeding which any proceeding concerning the accused is actually under advisement.

(b) Any period of delay resulting from the absence or unavailability of an essential witness.

For purposes of this subparagraph, an essential witness shall be considered absent when his whereabouts are unknown or his whereabouts cannot be determined by due diligence. He shall be considered unavailable whenever his whereabouts are known but his presence for trial cannot be obtained by due diligence.

(c) Any period of delay resulting from the mental incompetence or physical inability of the accused to stand trial.

(d) If the information is dismissed upon motion of the prosecution and thereafter a charge is filed against the accused for the same offense, any period of delay from the date the charge was dismissed to the date the time limitation would commence to run as to the subsequent charge had there been no previous charge.

(e) A reasonable period of delay when the accused is joined for trial with a co-accused over whom the court has not acquired jurisdiction, or, as to whom the time for trial has not run and no motion for separate trial has been granted.

(f) Any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by any court motu proprio, or on motion of either the accused or his counsel, or the prosecution, if the court granted the continuance on the basis of its findings set forth in the order that the ends of justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the accused in a speedy trial. 

Section 4. Factors for granting continuance. — The following factors, among others, shall be considered by a court in determining whether to grant a continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule.

(a) Whether or not the failure to grant a continuance in the proceeding would likely make a continuation of such proceeding impossible or result in a miscarriage of justice; and

(b) Whether or not the case taken as a whole is so novel, unusual and complex, due to the number of accused or the nature of the prosecution, or that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation within the periods of time established therein.

In addition, no continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule shall be granted because of congestion of the court's calendar or lack of diligent preparation or failure to obtain available witnesses on the part of the prosecutor. 

Section 5. Time limit following an order for new trial. — If the accused is to be tried again pursuant to an order for a new trial, the trial shall commence within thirty (30) days from notice of the order, provided that if the period becomes impractical due to unavailability of witnesses and other factors, the court may extend it but not to exceed one hundred eighty (180) days from notice of said order for a new trial. 

Section 6. Extended time limit. — Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1(g), Rule 116 and the preceding section 1, for the first twelve-calendar-month period following its effectivity on September 15, 1998, the time limit with respect to the period from arraignment to trial imposed by said provision shall be one hundred eighty (180) days. For the second twelve-month period, the limit shall be one hundred twenty (120) days, and for the third twelve-month period, the time limit shall be eighty (80) days.

Section 7. Public attorney's duties where accused is imprisoned. — If the public attorney assigned to defend a person charged with a crime knows that the latter is preventively detained, either because he is charged with a bailable crime but has no means to post bail, or, is charged with a non-bailable crime, or, is serving a term of imprisonment in any penal institution, it shall be his duty to do the following:

(a) Shall promptly undertake to obtain the presence of the prisoner for trial or cause a notice to be served on the person having custody of the prisoner requiring such person to so advise the prisoner of his right to demand trial.

(b) Upon receipt of that notice, the custodian of the prisoner shall promptly advise the prisoner of the charge and of his right to demand trial. If at anytime thereafter the prisoner informs his custodian that he demands such trial, the latter shall cause notice to that effect to sent promptly to the public attorney.

(c) Upon receipt of such notice, the public attorney shall promptly seek to obtain the presence of the prisoner for trial.

(d) When the custodian of the prisoner receives from the public attorney a properly supported request for the availability of the prisoner for purposes of trial, the prisoner shall be made available accordingly. 

Section 8. Sanctions. — In any case in which private counsel for the accused, the public attorney, or the prosecutor.

(a) Knowingly allows the case to be set for trial without disclosing that a necessary witness would be unavailable for trial;

(b) Files a motion solely for delay which he knows is totally frivolous and without merit;

(c) Makes a statement for the purpose of obtaining continuance which he knows to be false and which is material to the granting of a continuance; or

(d) Willfully fails to proceed to trial without justification consistent with the provisions hereof, the court may punish such counsel, attorney, or prosecution, as follows:

(1) By imposing on a counsel privately retained in connection with the defense of an accused, a fine not exceeding twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00);

(2) By imposing on any appointed counsel de oficio, public attorney, or prosecutor a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000.00); and

(3) By denying any defense counsel or prosecutor the right to practice before the court trying the case for a period not exceeding thirty (30) days. The punishment provided for by this section shall be without prejudice to any appropriate criminal action or other sanction authorized under these rules. 

Section 9. Remedy where accused is not brought to trial within the time limit. — If the accused is not brought to trial within the time limit required by Section 1(g), Rule 116 and Section 1, as extended by Section 6 of this rule, the information may be dismissed on motion of the accused on the ground of denial of his right of speedy trial. The accused shall have the burden of proving the motion but the prosecution shall have the burden of going forward with the evidence to establish the exclusion of time under section 3 of this rule. The dismissal shall be subject to the rules on double jeopardy.

Failure of the accused to move for dismissal prior to trial shall constitute a waiver of the right to dismiss under this section. 

Section 10. Law on speedy trial not a bar to provision on speedy trial in the Constitution. — No provision of law on speedy trial and no rule implementing the same shall be interpreted as a bar to any charge of denial of the right to speedy trial guaranteed by section 14(2), article III, of the 1987 Constitution.

Section 11. Order of trial. — The trial shall proceed in the following order:

(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case, the civil liability.

(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and damages, if any, arising from the issuance of a provisional remedy in the case.

(c) The prosecution and the defense may, in that order, present rebuttal and sur-rebuttal evidence unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional evidence bearing upon the main issue.

(d) Upon admission of the evidence of the parties, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision unless the court directs them to argue orally or to submit written memoranda.

(e) When the accused admits the act or omission charged in the complaint or information but interposes a lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified.

Section 12. Application for examination of witness for accused before trial. — When the accused has been held to answer for an offense, he may, upon motion with notice to the other parties, have witnesses conditionally examined in his behalf. The motion shall state: (a) the name and residence of the witness; (b) the substance of his testimony; and (c) that the witness is sick or infirm as to afford reasonable ground for believing that he will not be able to attend the trial, or resides more than one hundred (100) kilometers from the place of trial and has no means to attend the same, or that other similar circumstances exist that would make him unavailable or prevent him from attending the trial. The motion shall be supported by an affidavit of the accused and such other evidence as the court may require. 

Section 13. Examination of defense witness; how made. — If the court is satisfied that the examination of a witness for the accused is necessary, an order will be made directing that the witness be examined at a specified date, time and place and that a copy of the order be served on the prosecutor at least three (3) days before the scheduled examination. The examination shall be taken before a judge, or, if not practicable, a member of the Bar in good standing so designated by the judge in the order, or if the order be made by a court of superior jurisdiction, before an inferior court to be designated therein. The examination shall proceed notwithstanding the absence of the prosecutor provided he was duly notified of the hearing. A written record of the testimony shall be taken. (5a)

Section 14. Bail to secure appearance of material witness. — When the court is satisfied, upon proof or oath, that a material witness will not testify when required, it may, upon motion of either party, order the witness to post bail in such sum as may be deemed proper. Upon refusal to post bail, the court shall commit him to prison until he complies or is legally discharged after his testimony has been taken. 

Section 15. Examination of witness for the prosecution. — When it satisfactorily appears that a witness for the prosecution is too sick or infirm to appear at the trial as directed by the order of the court, or has to leave the Philippines with no definite date of returning, he may forthwith be conditionally examined before the court where the case is pending. Such examination, in the presence of the accused, or in his absence after reasonable notice to attend the examination has been served on him, shall be conducted in the same manner as an examination at the trial. Failure or refusal of the accused to attend the examination after notice shall be considered a waiver. The statement taken may be admitted in behalf of or against the accused. 

Section 16. Trial of several accused. — When two or more accused are jointly charged with any offense, they shall be tried jointly unless the court, in its discretion and upon motion of the prosecutor or any accused, orders separate trial for one or more accused. 

Section 17. Discharge of accused to be state witness. — When two or more persons are jointly charged with the commission of any offense, upon motion of the prosecution before resting its case, the court may direct one or more of the accused to be discharged with their consent so that they may be witnesses for the state when, after requiring the prosecution to present evidence and the sworn statement of each proposed state witness at a hearing in support of the discharge, the court is satisfied that:

(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;

(b) The is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of said accused;

(c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;

(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and

(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.

Evidence adduced in support of the discharge shall automatically form part of the trial. If the court denies the motion for discharge of the accused as state witness, his sworn statement shall be inadmissible in evidence. 

Section 18. Discharge of accused operates as acquittal. — The order indicated in the preceding section shall amount to an acquittal of the discharged accused and shall be a bar to future prosecution for the same offense, unless the accused fails or refuses to testify against his co-accused in accordance with his sworn statement constituting the basis for the discharge. 

Section 19. When mistake has been made in charging the proper offense. — When it becomes manifest at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense and the accused cannot be convicted of the offense charged or any other offense necessarily included therein, the accused shall not be discharged if there appears good cause to detain him. In such case, the court shall commit the accused to answer for the proper offense and dismiss the original case upon the filing of the proper information. 

Section 20. Appointment of acting prosecutor. — When a prosecutor, his assistant or deputy is disqualified to act due to any of the grounds stated in section 1 of Rule 137 or for any other reasons, the judge or the prosecutor shall communicate with the Secretary of Justice in order that the latter may appoint an acting prosecutor. 

Section 21. Exclusion of the public. — The judge may, motu proprio, exclude the public from the courtroom if the evidence to be produced during the trial is offensive to decency or public morals. He may also, on motion of the accused, exclude the public from the trial, except court personnel and the counsel of the parties.

Section 22. Consolidation of trials of related offenses. — Charges for offenses founded on the same facts or forming part of a series of offenses of similar character may be tried jointly at the discretion of the court.

Section 23. Demurrer to evidence. — After the prosecution rests its case, the court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence (1) on its own initiative after giving the prosecution the opportunity to be heard or (2) upon demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court.

If the court denies the demurrer to evidence filed with leave of court, the accused may adduce evidence in his defense. When the demurrer to evidence is filed without leave of court, the accused waives the right to present evidence and submits the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence for the prosecution. 

The motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence shall specifically state its grounds and shall be filed within a non-extendible period of five (5) days after the prosecution rests its case. The prosecution may oppose the motion within a non-extendible period of five (5) days from its receipt.

If leave of court is granted, the accused shall file the demurrer to evidence within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from notice. The prosecution may oppose the demurrer to evidence within a similar period from its receipt.

The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment. 

Section 24. Reopening. — At any time before finality of the judgment of conviction, the judge may, motu proprio or upon motion, with hearing in either case, reopen the proceedings to avoid a miscarrage of justice. The proceedings shall be terminated within thirty (30) days from the order grating it.

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