The Philippine Constitution emphatically provides that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law and no warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge (Art. III, Secs. 1 and 2). As a general rule, no one can be arrested without a valid warrant, which is likewise true in search and seizure). There are three recognized exceptions to the constitutional prohibition on warrantless arrests. These valid warrantless arrests are: (a) In flagrante delicto arrests; (b) “Hot pursuit” arrests; and (c) Re-arrest of escaped prisoners.
IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO ARRESTS
A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 113, Sec. 5[a]). This kind of warrantless arrest is known as an in flagrante delicto arrest. The validity of this warrantless arrest requires compliance with the overt act test. Two elements must concur:
- 1. The person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he/she has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and
- 2. Such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.
Failure to comply with the overt act test renders an inflagrante delicto arrest constitutionally infirm.
“In flagrante” arrests require that the an overt act must be committed in the presence of the arresting officer. In the next valid warrantless arrest, law enforcers need not personally witness the commission of a crime.
[See also: Valid Warrantless Searches in the Philippines]
HOT PURSUIT ARRESTS
A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it (Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 113, Sec. 5[b]).
This provision covers “hot pursuit” arrests, which require the presence of two elements to be valid:
- 1. An offense has just been committed; and
- 2. The arresting officer has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.
That a crime was in fact committed does not automatically bring the case under “hot pursuit” arrests”. There must be “probable cause” and there must be “immediacy” in the time frame from the commission of the crime.
The existence of “probable cause” is the “objectifier” or the determinant on how the arresting officer shall proceed on the facts and circumstances, within his personal knowledge, for purposes of determining whether the person to be arrested has committed the crime. The “probable cause” for arresting officers is distinct from the “probable cause” for public prosecutors and judges.
In resolving a complaint during preliminary investigation, the public prosecutor must make a determination of probable case, which is the existence of facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the crime for which he was prosecuted. In resolving an application for a warrant of arrest, the judge must also make a determination of probable cause, which is the existence of such facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an offense has been committed by the person sought to be arrested.
The arresting officer should base his determination of probable cause on his personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that the person sought to be arrested has committed the crime; the public prosecutor and the judge must base their determination on the evidence submitted by the parties. In other words, the arresting officer operates on the basis of more limited facts, evidence or available information that he must personally gather within a limited time frame.
The clincher in the element of ”personal knowledge of facts or circumstances” is the required element of immediacy within which these facts or circumstances should be gathered. This required time acts as a safeguard to ensure that the police officers have gathered the facts or perceived the circumstances within a very limited time frame.
Lastly, is important to note that even in valid warrantless arrests, the person arrested is entitled to his/her “Miranda Rights“.
[Sources/Quotes: Pestilos vs. Generoso, G.R. No. 182601, 10 November 2014; Veridiano vs. People, G.R. No. 200370, 7 June 2017]
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