Exercise of criminal jurisdiction


There are three requisites for the exercise of criminal jurisdiction: subject matter; person, and; territory. Each is discussed below.

What does "jurisdiction over the subject matter" mean?

To determine the court's jurisdiction over the subject matter, the law in force should be looked into. The questions to be kept in mind are:

[1] Does the law confer jurisdiction over Court X to hear Case A? or,
[2] Does the court have jurisdiction over the offense by virtue of the imposable penalty and its nature.

Bear in mind that under the law, offenses punishable by imprisonment of not more than 6 years is cognizable by the Municipal Trial Court. Whereas, those that go beyond 6 years (meaning, 6 years and 1 day or more) are under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.

What does "jurisdiction over the person of the accused" mean?

This means that power over the person accused of violating a law has been lawfully acquired. This is either by arrest or voluntary submission to the court's jurisdiction.What does "jurisdiction over the territory" mean?

The question to be asked here is whether or not the action has been filed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Remember please that in Criminal Procedure, the place where the crime is committed confers the court territorial jurisdiction over that case.

Venue is jurisdictional in criminal law and criminal procedure.

Jurisdiction over the territory refers to venue or the place where the case is to be tried. The action should be instituted and tried in the municipality or territory where offense has been committed or where any one of the essential ingredients thereof took place. (Read Sec 15(a), Rule 110)

It has been consistently held by the Supreme Court in a host of jurisprudence that for transitory or continuing offenses (delito continuado), the courts of the territories where the essential ingredients of
the crime took place have concurrent jurisdiction. The first court taking cognizance of the case will exclude the others.

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