PEOPLE vs. TAN, G.R. No. 167526, July 26, 2010

On December 21, 2000, two Informations for violation of Rule 36 (a)-1,4 in relation to Sections 32 (a)-15 and 566 of the Revised Securities Act, were filed by petitioner People of the Philippines against respondent Dante Tan in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City. After arraignment, respondent pleaded not guilty to both charges and the trial ensued.

On November 24, 2003, petitioner made its formal offer of evidence. On December 11, 2003, the RTC issued an Order admitting the some of the Exhibits.

On December 18, 2003, respondent filed an Omnibus Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence and to admit the attached Demurrer to Evidence.

On January 29, 2004, the RTC issued another Order granting respondents’ Motion for Leave to File the Demurrer and forthwith admitted respondent’s attached Demurrer. The RTC also ordered petitioner to file an opposition.

On February 18, 2004, petitioner filed its Opposition to the Demurrer to Evidence. Respondent then filed a Reply.

On March 16, 2004, the RTC issued an Order granting respondent’s Demurrer to Evidence.

On April 12, 2004, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari before the CA assailing the Orders of the RTC.

On June 14, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution denying the petition ruling that the dismissal of a criminal action by the grant of a Demurrer to Evidence is one on the merits and operates as an acquittal, for which reason, the prosecution cannot appeal therefrom as it would place the accused in double jeopardy. Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was, however, denied by the CA. Hence, herein petition.

1. Whether Respondent court gravely erred in precluding the people from prosecuting its cases against dante tan.
2. Whether the Granting of the Demurrer to Evidence, the Rule on Double Jeopardy will apply.

1. No, the demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is “filed after the prosecution had rested its case,” and when the same is granted, it calls “for an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the accused.” Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused in double jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there.

2. Yes, the elements of double jeopardy are: (1) the complaint or information was sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the court had jurisdiction; (3) the accused had been arraigned and had pleaded; and (4) the accused was convicted or acquitted, or the case was dismissed without his express consent. Which all the elements squarely applies to the instant case.

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. However, while certiorari may be availed of to correct an erroneous acquittal, the petitioner in such an extraordinary proceeding must clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.

We are bound by the dictum that whatever error may have been committed effecting the dismissal of the case cannot now be corrected because of the timely plea of double jeopardy.47 To reiterate, 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 which cannot be attributed to the RTC simply because it chose not to hold in abeyance the resolution of the demurrer to evidence.

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