Limitations, characteristics of criminal law


QUESTIONS: [1] What are the limitations upon the power of congress to enact penal laws?

[2] State the characteristics of criminal law and explain each.

ANSWERS: In US v. Bull, the specific restrictions upon legislative power were discussed. The Supreme Court held that they are:

[1] That no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law;
[2] That in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial;
[3] That the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;
[4] That he be confronted with the witnesses against him;
[5] That he have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor;
[6] That he have the assistance of counsel for his defense;
[7] That excessive bail shall not be required;
[8] That excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted;
[9] That no person shall be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense;
[10] That no person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself;
[11] That the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated;
[12] That neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except as a punishment for crime;
[13] That no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed;
[14] That no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances;
[15] That no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and
[16] That the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be allowed.
Regarding the characteristics of criminal law, they are the following:

[1] Generality. The law is binding upon all persons who reside to sojourn in the Philippines, irrespective of age, sex, color, creed, or personal circumstances, subject to the treaty stipulations and laws of preferential application.
[2] Territoriality. The law is applicable to all crimes committed within the limits of Philippine territory, which includes its atmosphere, interior waters and maritime zone (subject to the UNCLOS).
[3] Prospectivity. The law does not have any retroactive effect, except if it favors the offender unless he is a habitual delinquent (Art. 22) or the law otherwise provides.

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