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Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Rule 110 – Information – Designation of the Offense – When time is not an element of the crime – Variance in time alleged and time proved
In November 1993, Salvador Marzalado, Jr., the owner of an apartment unit being rented by Cristina Albanao entered the apartment unit without the consent of Albano.
Albano filed a trespassing case against Marzalado. The Information alleged that the trespassing incident happened on November 2.
In his defense, Salvador admitted that he entered the apartment unit but it was on November 3. Salvador further claimed that his entrance was for the purpose of closing an opened faucet to avoid flooding and that he was assisted by barangay officials.
The trial court convicted Salvador. The conviction was affirmed by the CA.
On appeal, Salvador argued that the Information is defective because the incident happened not on November 2 but on November 3. Albano further argued that his entry was justified to defend his property. The OSG countered that date is not an element of the crime of trespassing and that Salvador could have just closed the main water switch instead of entering the apartment unit.
ISSUE: Whether or not Salvador should be convicted.
Salvador was justified in entering the apartment unit. In the prosecution for trespass, the material fact or circumstance to be considered is the occurrence of the trespass. Here, the apartment unit was unattended by Albano. Salvador saw that there was a flooding being caused by an open faucet inside the apartment unit. No criminal intent could be clearly imputed to Salvador for the remedial action he had taken. There was an exigency that had to be addressed to avoid damage to the leased unit. Salvador cannot be faulted if he chose to enter the apartment unit instead of switching off the main inlet.
Anent the discrepancy in the time of the alleged crime in the Information from the actual date of entry, such discrepancy does not make the Information defective.
Facts and circumstances necessary for inclusion in the information are determined by reference to the definition and elements of the specific crime. In trespass to dwelling, the elements are: (1) the offender is a private person; (2) that he enters the dwelling of another; and (3) such entrance is against the latter’s will. The exact date when the alleged trespass occurred is not an essential element of the offense of trespass. It is sufficient that the Complaint or Information states that the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its actual commission. Section 11, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provides that it is not necessary to state in the complaint or information the precise time the offense was committed except when time is a material ingredient of the offense, but the act may be alleged to have been committed at any time as near to the actual date at which the offense was committed as the information or complaint will permit. A variance between the time set out in the indictment and that established by the evidence during trial does not constitute an error so serious as to warrant reversal of a conviction solely on that score.