Political Law

People of the Philippines vs Alfredo Araquel

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G.R. No. L-12629 – 106 Phil. 677 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Bill of Rights – Right Against Double Jeopardy – Court of Competent Jurisdiction

Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Rule 117 – Motion to Quash – Double Jeopardy – When it does not attach

In 1956, Alfredo Araquel was arraigned before a justice of the peace (municipal trial court) under an Information alleging the crime of “HOMICIDE UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES defined and punished under Article 247 of the revised Penal Code” for the death of Alberto Pagadian. Araquel pleaded guilty and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of destierro. While he was serving the penalty, he was again charged before a Court of First Instance (regional trial court) for the death of Alberto Pagadian but this time, the Information alleged “HOMICIDE as defined and penalized under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code”. Araquel moved for the quashal of the second Information on the ground of double jeopardy.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is double jeopardy in this case.

HELD: No. Firstly, Article 247 does not define a crime. It merely provides a special privilege for an accused who has killed/injured his/her spouse/daughter under exceptional circumstances.

Second, an accused must still be charged for the proper offense (homicide, murder, or serious physical injuries) and the penalty for the appropriate crime must be the basis in determining jurisdiction. In the case of Araquel, it was not proper for the prosecution in the first information to file the case before the justice of the peace (municipal trial court) based on the penalty prescribed in Article 247. The penalty for homicide is that provided for by Article 249 not Article 247. In fact, it was up to Araquel to invoke Article 247 during trial but he must be arraigned for violation of Article 249 and not Article 247.

That being said, when Araquel was charged a second time for the killing of the same person, double jeopardy did not attach. Since the first Information was erroneously tried by a justice of the peace (municipal trial court) which does not have jurisdiction over homicide cases, Araquel was not tried in a court with competent jurisdiction in the first jeopardy. The second case must therefore prosper. Double jeopardy does not attach if, in the first jeopardy, the accused was tried by a court without competent jurisdiction.

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