Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Warrantless search; a waiver of an illegal arrest is not a waiver of an illegal search.⁠


“x x x.

The warrantless search conducted is not among those allowed by law.

A waiver of an illegal arrest, however, is not a waiver of an illegal search.⁠2 Records have established that both the arrest and the search were made without a warrant. While the accused has already waived his right to contest the legality of his arrest, he is not deemed to have equally waived his right to contest the legality of the search.

Jurisprudence is replete with pronouncements on when a warrantless search can be conducted. These searches include: (1) search of a moving vehicle; (2) seizure in plain view; (3) customs search; (4) waiver or consented search; (5) stop-and-frisk situation; (6) search incidental to a lawful arrest and (7) exigent and emergency circumstance.⁠3 

The search made was not among the enumerated instances. Certainly, it was not of a moving vehicle, a customs search, or a search incidental to a lawful arrest. There could not have been a seizure in plain view as the seized item was allegedly found inside the left pocket of accused-appellant’s pants. Neither was it a stop-and-frisk situation. While this type may seemingly fall under the consented search exception, we reiterate that “[c]onsent to a search is not to be lightly inferred, but shown by clear and convincing evidence.⁠4 

Consent must also be voluntary in order to validate an otherwise illegal search; that is, the consent must be unequivocal, specific, intelligently given, and uncontaminated by any duress or coercion.⁠5 In this case, petitioner was merely “ordered” to take out the contents of his pocket. X x x.

The evidence obtained is not admissible.

Having been obtained through an unlawful search, the seized item is thus inadmissible in evidence against accused-appellant. Obviously, this is an instance of seizure of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Hence, the confiscated item is inadmissible in evidence consonant with Article III, Section 3(2) of the 1987 Constitution: “Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.”⁠7 Without the seized item, therefore, the conviction of accused-appellant cannot be sustained. This being the case, we see no more reason to discuss the alleged lapses of the officers in the handling of the confiscated drug.

As a final word, we reiterate that “[wjhile this Court appreciates and encourages the efforts of law enforcers to uphold the law and to preserve the peace and security of society, we nevertheless admonish them to act with deliberate care and within the parameters set by the Constitution and the law. Truly, the end never justifies the means.”⁠8

X x x.”