The procedural due process mandate of the Constitution requires that the accused be arraigned so that he may be fully informed as to why he was charged and what penal offense he has to face, to be convicted only on showing that his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt with full opportunity to disprove the evidence against him.[1] During arraignment, the accused is granted the opportunity to fully know the precise charge that confronts him and made fully aware of possible loss of freedom, even of his life, depending on the nature of the crime imputed to him.[2]

An arraignment thus ensures that an accused be fully acquainted with the nature of the crime imputed to him in the Information and the circumstances under which it is allegedly committed.[3] It is likewise at this stage of the proceedings when the accused enters his plea,[4] or enters a plea of not guilty to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged.[5]

A concomitant component of this stage of the proceedings is that the Information should provide the accused with fair notice of the accusations made against him, so that he will be able to make an intelligent plea and prepare a defense.[6] Moreover, the Information must provide some means of ensuring that the crime for which the accused is brought to trial is in fact one for which he was charged, rather than some alternative crime seized upon by the prosecution in light of subsequently discovered evidence.[7] Likewise, it must indicate just what crime or crimes an accused is being tried for, in order to avoid subsequent attempts to retry him for the same crime or crimes.[8] In other words, the Information must permit the accused to prepare his defense, ensure that he is prosecuted only on the basis of facts presented, enable him to plead jeopardy against a later prosecution, and inform the court of the facts alleged so that it can determine the sufficiency of the charge.

ALSO READ: Enrile v. People. G.R. No. 213455, August 11, 2015.Oftentimes, this is achieved when the Information alleges the material elements of the crime charged. If the Information fails to comply with this basic standard, it would be quashed on the ground that it fails to charge an offense.[9] Of course, an Information may be sufficient to withstand a motion to quash, and yet insufficiently inform the accused of the specific details of the alleged offenses. In such instances, the Rules of Court allows the accused to move for a bill of particulars to enable him properly to plead and to prepare for trial.[10]

[1] Herrera, Remedial Law, Vol. IV (Rules 110-127), Criminal Procedure, 2007 ed., p. 591.
[2] Herrera, Remedial Law, Vol. IV (Rules 110-127), Criminal Procedure, 2007 ed., p. 592.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] SEC. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. — At arraignment, the accused, with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor, may be allowed by the trial court to plead guilty to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged. After arraignment but before trial, the accused may still be allowed to plead guilty to said lesser offense after withdrawing his plea of not guilty. No amendment of the complaint or information is necessary. (Sec. 4, cir. 38-98) (Rule 116, Rules of Criminal Procedure).
[6] See Russell v. United States, 369 US 749.
[7] Id. See also Rule 117, Section 5.
[8] Id.
[9] Section 3(a), Rule 117.
[10] Section 9, Rule 116.

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