CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL JURISDICTION

December 21, 2022 @ 1:35 PM 1 month ago


DEFENSE LAWYERS frequently cross swords with public prosecutors over the matter of criminal jurisdiction.
What is “Criminal Jurisdiction”? It is the authority to hear and try a particular offense and impose the punishment for it. (Herrera, Remedial Law, Volume IV, 2001 Edition, p. 3, citing People v. Mariano, L-40527, June 30, 1975)
There are requisites or requirements for a valid exercise of criminal jurisdiction: (1) Jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) Jurisdiction over the territory where the offense was committed; and (3) Jurisdiction over the person of the accused.

Philippine courts have no common law jurisdiction or power, but only those expressly conferred by the Constitution and statutes. Further, the jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal action is determined not by the law in force at the time of the commission of offense-but by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action. (De La Cruz vs. Moya, April 27, 1988)

Generally, a criminal case should be instituted and tried in the place where the offense was committed or any of its essential ingredients took place. It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. (Navaja vs. Hon. De Castro, June 22, 2015)
And jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired either by his/her arrest or voluntary appearance in court. (Republic vs. Sunga, June 20, 1988)

JURISDICTION VERSUS VENUE

Former Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Florenz D. Regalado, enumerated the following distinctions between jurisdiction and venue: “(a) Jurisdiction is the authority to hear and determine a case; venue is a place where the case is to be heard or tried; (b) Jurisdiction is a matter of substantive law; venue, of procedural law; (c) Jurisdiction establishes a relation between the court and the subject matter; venue, a relation between plaintiff and defendant, or petitioner and respondent; and, (d) Jurisdiction is fixed by law and cannot be conferred by the parties; venue may be conferred by the act or agreement of the parties xxx.” (Langkaan Realty Development, Inc. vs. UCPB, December 8, 2000)

However, it must be underscored that, in criminal cases, venue is an essential element of jurisdiction.

CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS MAY NOT BE RESTRAINED BY INJUNCTION; EXCEPTIONS

Public interest requires that criminal acts be immediately investigated and prosecuted for the protection of society. Hence, the general rule is that criminal prosecutions may not be restrained or stayed by injunction, preliminary or final.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Among the exceptions are: (1) To afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the accused; (2) When necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions; (3) When there is a prejudicial question which is sub-judice; (4) When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority; (5) Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation; (6) When double jeopardy is clearly apparent; (7) Where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense; (8) Where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution; (9) Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance; and (10) When there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a motion to quash on that ground has been denied. (Roberts, Jr. vs. Court of Appeals, March 5, 1996)