Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sufficient criminal information, complaint


“x x x.

1. On the first issue, petitioner insists that even if the court a quo already admitted that the Information failed to specifically identify the mode or manner by which estafa was committed by petitioner, it nonetheless went on to convict her by relying on the allegation in the Information of deceit and misrepresentation and applying par. (2)(a), Art. 315 of the RPC.

Entrenched in jurisprudence is the dictum that the real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the information, or from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, which are mere conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of the facts in the complaint or information.25 As held in People v. Dimaano:26

For complaint or information to be sufficient, it must state the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate time of the commission of the offense, and the place wherein the offense was committed. What is controlling is not the title of the complaint, nor the designation of the offense charge or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated, these being mere conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the crime charged and the particular facts therein recited. The acts or omissions complained of must be alleged in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. No information for a crime will be sufficient if it does not accurately and clearly allege the elements of the crime charged. Every element of the offense must be stated in the information. What facts and circumstances are necessary to be included therein must be determined by reference to the definitions and essentials of the specified crimes. The requirement of alleging the elements of a crime in the information is to inform the accused of the nature of the accusation against him so as to enable him to suitably prepare his defense. The presumption is that the accused has no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense. (Emphasis supplied)

As early in United States v. Lim San,27 this Court has determined that:

From a legal point of view, and in a very real sense, it is of no concern to the accused what is the technical name of the crime of which he stands charged. It in no way aids him in a defense on the merits. x x x. That to which his attention should be directed, and in which he, above all things else, should be most interested, are the facts alleged. The real question is not did he commit a crime given in the law some technical and specific name, but did he perform the acts alleged in the body of the information in the manner therein set forth. If he did, it is of no consequence to him, either as a matter of procedure or of substantive right, how the law denominates the crime which those acts constitute. The designation of the crime by name in the caption of the information from the facts alleged in the body of that pleading is a conclusion of law made by the fiscal. In the designation of the crime the accused never has a real interest until the trial has ended. For his full and complete defense he need not know the name of the crime at all. It is of no consequence whatever for the protection of his substantial rights. The real and important question to him is, "Did you perform the acts alleged in the manner alleged?" not "Did you commit a crime named murder." If he performed the acts alleged, in the manner stated, the law determines what the name of the crime is and fixes the penalty therefor. It is the province of the court alone to say what the name of the crime is or what it is named. x x x. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Petitioner’s argument is as outdated as it is erroneous. The averments in the two (2) sets of Information against petitioner and Rusillon clearly stated facts and circumstances constituting the elements of the crime of estafa as to duly inform them of the nature and cause of the accusation, sufficient to prepare their respective defenses.

X x x.”