Petitioner Accused was caught stealing 14 boxes of Ponds Whitening Cream by hiding he said item inside a box of Magic Flakes. The accused was caught trying to pass the said items when he trying to pay for the items as Magic Flakes. When the guard inspected the said box, he discovered the 14 boxes of Ponds. After the discovery of the items, the accused ran, but was apprehended by the Mall employees. The accused was charged of Frustrated Theft. The information was filed by the prosecution. The RTC held that Theft has no Frustrated stages hence, based on the evidence presented, sentenced the accused of Consummated Theft.
Whether the accused should be acquitted in the crime of theft as it was not charged in the information?
Yes, it is a Constitutional guarantee that the right of every person accused in a criminal prosecution to be informed of the nature of and causes of the accusation against him. It is fundamental that every element of which the offense is composed must be alleged in the complaint or information. The main purpose of requiring the various elements of a crime to be set out in the information is to enable the accused to suitably prepare his defense. He is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense.
As stated earlier, there is no crime of Frustrated Theft. The Information can never be read to charge Canceran of consummated Theft because the indictment itself stated that the crime was never produced. Instead, the Information should be construed to mean that Canceran was being charged with theft in its attempted stage only. Necessarily, Canceran may only be convicted of the lesser crime of Attempted Theft.
An accused cannot be convicted of a higher offense than that with which he was charged in the complaint or information and on which he was tried. It matters not how conclusive and convincing the evidence of guilt may be, an accused cannot be convicted in the courts of any offense, unless it is charged in the complaint or information on which he is tried, or necessarily included therein. He has a right to be informed as to the nature of the offense with which he is charged before he is put on trial, and to convict him of an offense higher than that charged in the complaint or information on which he is tried would be an unauthorized denial of that right.
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