7 rules re burden of proof in criminal cases

In criminal cases, there are different levels of burden of proof or evidentiary proof, depending on the stage of the case.

[1] For the issuance of warrant of arrest , evidence of probable cause is required. This means that there exists a reasonable ground that the accused has committed an offense.

To determine whether or not to issue a warrant of arrest, it is not required that all reasonable doubt of the accused’s guilt must be removed, but that the evidence be sufficient to establish probable cause that the accused committed the offense charged. (A.M. No. 289-MJ. November 15, 1974)

[2] To warrant the filing of an information, against probable cause is enough. This means that the prosecuting officer is justified in filing the information if there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial. See Section 1 of Rule 112.

[3] To sustain a conviction , what is required is evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This is equivalent to moral certainty.

As held in People of the Philippines vs. Ellizabeth Ganguso y Decena (G.R. No. 115430, November 23, 1995, 250 SCRA 268, 274-275), an accused has in his favor the presumption of innocence which the Bill of Rights guarantees. Unless his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt, he must be acquitted. This reasonable doubt standard is demanded by the due process clause of the Constitution which protects the accused from conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged.The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and unless it discharges that burden the accused need not even offer evidence in his behalf, and he would be entitled to an acquittal. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not, of course, mean such degree of proof as, excluding the possibility of error, produce absolute certainty. Moral certainty only is required, or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. The conscience must be satisfied that the accused is responsible for the offense charged.

[4] To deny bail in cases where bail is a matter of discretion, it is enough that the evidence of guilt is strong.

[5] To accept a plea of guilty to a capital offense, the court must be convinced that the accused voluntarily and fully comprehends the consequences of his plea. Read Section 3, Rule 116.

[6] To grant demurrer to evidence, the court must find that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. See Section 23, Rule 119.

[7] The burden of proof rests on the prosecution.

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