Remedial Law

People of the Philippines vs Edwin Reafor

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G.R. No. 247575 – Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Rule 116 – Plea Bargaining – Judgment on a lesser plea without the consent of the prosecution is void

Edwin Reafor was charged of violating Section 5 of R.A. No. 9165 (selling of illegal drugs). He proposed to plead guilty to the lesser offense of possession of illegal drug paraphernalia under Section 12 of R.A. No. 9165. The prosecution objected to the plea bargaining proposal but despite the objection, the trial court gave due course to the plea bargaining proposal. Thereafter, judgment was promulgated convicting Reafor for violation of Section 12 of R.A. No. 9165.

ISSUE: Whether or not the judgment is valid.

HELD: No. The judgment is void ab initio. The basic requisites of plea bargaining are (a) consent of the offended party (b) consent of the prosecutor, (c) plea of guilty to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged, and (d) approval of the court.

In this case, the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion when it approved the plea bargaining proposal without the consent of the prosecutor. Since Reafor’s plea of guilt and subsequent conviction for a lesser offense clearly lack one of the requisites of a valid plea bargain, the plea bargaining is void. Resultantly, the judgment rendered by the trial court which was based on a void plea bargaining is also void ab initio and cannot be considered to have attained finality for the simple reason that a void judgment has no legality from its inception. The case is remanded to the trial court for the resumption of trial.

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