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Lasoy vs. Zenarosa Case Digest

An information is valid as long as it distinctly states the statutory designation of the offense and the acts or omissions constitutive thereof.

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Lasoy and Banisa were charged before the RTC with violation of Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 for transporting and selling 42.41 grams of marijuana fruiting tops. Both pleaded guilty on arraignment and were later on sentenced to suffer a jail term of 6 months and 1 day. Both accused applied for probation.

Subsequently, the prosecutor filed two separate motions: (1) to admit amended Information, and (2) to set aside the arraignment of the accused. The prosecutor intended to amend the filed information because for some reason, Lasoy and Banisa were charged of selling 42.41 grams instead of 42.41 kilograms of marijuana.

The motions were granted. Thus the information now states “kilograms” instead of “grams". Both accused filed a motion to quash.

Judge Zenarosa denied the motion to quash and scheduled the arraignment of the accused under the amended information. Lasoy and Banisa raises a petition for certiorari on the ground of double jeopardy. In response, respondent claims that the trial based on the first information was a sham and that the petitioners participated in tampering the information.


Whether or not double jeopardy attaches


Yes. To invoke the defense of double jeopardy, the following requisites must be present: (1) a valid complaint or information; (2) the court has jurisdiction to try the case; (3) the accused has pleaded to the charge; and (4) he has been convicted or acquitted or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

The issue boil down to whether or not the first information is valid.

An information is valid as long as it distinctly states the statutory designation of the offense and the acts or omissions constitutive thereof.

In other words, if the offense is stated in such a way that a person of ordinary intelligence may immediately know what is meant, and the court can decide the matter according to law, the inevitable conclusion is that the information is valid. It is not necessary to follow the language of the statute in the information. The information will be sufficient if it describes the crime defined by law.

Applying the foregoing, the inescapable conclusion is that the first information is valid inasmuch as it sufficiently alleges the manner by which the crime was committed. Verily the purpose of the law, that is, to apprise the accused of the nature of the charge against them, is reasonably complied with.

With respect specifically to the trial courts point of view that the accused cannot claim their right against double jeopardy because they participated/acquiesced to the tampering, we hold that while this may not be far-fetched, there is actually no hard evidence thereof. Worse, we cannot overlook the fact that accused were arraigned, entered a plea of guilty and convicted under the first information. Granting that alteration/tampering took place and the accused had a hand in it, this does not justify the setting aside of the decision dated 16 July 1996. The alleged tampering/alteration allegedly participated in by the accused may well be the subject of another inquiry.

In Sanvicente v. People, this Court held that given the far-reaching scope of an accused’s right against double jeopardy, even an appeal based on an alleged misappreciation of evidence will not lie. The only instance when double jeopardy will not attach is when the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham.

The Constitution is very explicit. Article III, Section 21, mandates that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. In this case, the accused had been arraigned and convicted. In fact, they were already in the stage where they were applying for probation. It is too late in the day for the prosecution to ask for the amendment of the information and seek to try again accused for the same offense without violating procedural rules and their rights guaranteed under the Constitution. (Lasoy vs. Zenarosa, G.R. No. 129472. April 12, 2005)

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