Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bail, when discretionary.

See - After One Is Convicted By The Trial Court, The Presumption Of Innocence, And With It, The Constitutional Right To Bail, Ends... - The Lawyer's Post

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Bail pending appeal is governed by Sec. 5 of Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides:
Sec. 5. Bail, when discretionary. — Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death,reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary.  The application for bail may be filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not transmitted the original record to the appellate court.  However, if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.
Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.
If the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six (6) years, the accused shall be denied bail, or his bail shall be cancelled upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the accused, of the following or other similar circumstances:
(a)  That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;
(b)  That he has previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without a valid justification;
(c)  That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon;
(d)  That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or
(e)  That there is undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.
The appellate court may, motu proprio or on motion of any party, review the resolution of the Regional Trial Court after notice to the adverse party in either case.  (Emphasis supplied.)
Under the present rule, the grant of bail is a matter of discretion upon conviction by the RTC of an offense not punishable by death,reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, as here.  The Court held:
Indeed, pursuant to the “tough on bail pending appeal” policy, the presence of bail-negating conditions mandates the denial or revocation of bail pending appeal such that those circumstances are deemed to be as grave as conviction by the trial court for an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment where bail is prohibited.⁠1 
In the exercise of that discretion, the proper courts are to be guided by the fundamental principle that the allowance of bail pending appeal should be exercised not with laxity but with grave caution and only for strong reasons, considering that the accused has been in fact convicted by the trial court.2 
The CA denied petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal on the ground that she is a flight risk, a bail-negating factor under Sec. 5(d) of Rule 114 quoted above.  The appellate court anchored its denial on several circumstances, pointed out by the OSG, which showed petitioner’s propensity to evade the law, as when she failed to attend the hearings before the RTC, which compelled said court to issue three warrants for petitioner’s arrest.  There is no dispute, and petitioner does not deny the fact, that on various dates, specifically on August 24, 2005, February 20, 2006 and March 8, 2010, the RTC issued warrants for her arrest.  The March 8, 2010 RTC Order also directed the forfeiture of her bail bond.
Petitioner’s plea for bail pending appeal is bereft of merit.
The CA properly exercised its discretion in denying petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal.  The CA’s determination as to petitioner being a high risk for flight is not without factual mooring.  Indeed, the undisputed fact that petitioner did not attend the hearings before the RTC, which compelled the trial court to issue warrants for her arrest, is undeniably indicative of petitioner’s propensity to trifle with court processes. This fact alone should weigh heavily against a grant of bail pending appeal.
Petitioner’s penchant to disobey court processes may also be deduced from the fact that she lied in order to wiggle out of, and justify her non-appearance on the March 8, 2010 hearing before the RTC.  Petitioner gave the convenient but false excuse that her father, Cirilo Calpito, was hospitalized on said hearing day (i.e., March 8, 2010) and that Cirilo died on March 24, 2010.  The lies foisted on the court were exposed by: (1) the Death Certificate of Cirilo Calpito clearly showing that he died on March 24, 2009 or a year before the aforesaid March 2010 RTC hearing; and (2) the Certification issued by Dr. Aniana Javier stating that Cirilo went to her clinic on March 9, 2009.
Lest it be overlooked, the RTC notice sent to petitioner’s bonding company was returned with the notation “moved out,” while the notice sent to petitioner’s given address was returned unclaimed with the notation “RTS no such person according to Hesita Family” who were the actual occupants in petitioner’s given address.  The fact of transferring residences without informing her bondsman and the trial court can only be viewed as petitioner’s inclination to evade court appearance, as indicative of flight, and an attempt to place herself beyond the pale of the law.
Petitioner’s argument that she has the constitutional right to bail and that the evidence of guilt against her is not strong is spurious.  Certainly, after one is convicted by the trial court, the presumption of innocence, and with it, the constitutional right to bail, ends3.  As to the strength of evidence of guilt against her, suffice it to say that what is before the Court is not the appeal of her conviction, let alone the matter of evaluating the weight of the evidence adduced against her.
Consequently, the Court agrees with the appellate court’s finding of the presence of the fourth circumstance enumerated in the above-quoted Sec. 5 of Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, and holds that the appellate court neither erred nor gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal.  The appellate court appeared to have been guided by the circumstances provided under the Rules. As the Court categorically held in People v. Fitzgerald, “[A]s for an accused already convicted and sentenced to an imprisonment term exceeding six years, bail may be denied or revoked based on prosecution evidence as to the existence of any of the circumstances under Sec. 5, paragraphs (a) to (e) x x x.” ⁠4  Evidently, the circumstances succinctly provided in Sec. 5 of Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure have been placed as a guide for the exercise of the appellate court’s discretion in granting or denying the application for bail, pending the appeal of an accused who has been convicted of a crime where the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six (6) years.
In all, the Court finds the CA to have exercised its discretion soundly when it denied petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal."
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