Can you arrest a person without a warrant?

Section 2, Article III[1] of the Constitution mandates that a search and seizure must be carried out through or on the strength of a judicial warrant predicated upon the existence of probable cause; in the absence of such warrant, such search and seizure becomes, as a general rule, "unreasonable" within the meaning of said constitutional provision. To protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures, Section 3 (2), Article III[2] of the Constitution provides an exclusionary rule which instructs that evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable searches and seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree. In other words, evidence obtained from unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.[3]The exclusionary rule is not, however, an absolute and rigid proscription. One of the recognized exceptions established by jurisprudence is a search incident to a lawful arrest.[4] In this instance, the law requires that there first be a lawful arrest before a search can be made the process cannot be reversed.[5] Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure lays down the rules on lawful warrantless arrests, as follows:
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with Section 7 of Rule 112.

The aforementioned provision provides three (3) instances when a warrantless arrest may be lawfully effected: (a) arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto; (b) arrest of a suspect where, based on personal knowledge of the arresting officer, there is probable cause that said suspect was the perpetrator of a crime which had just been committed; (c) arrest of a prisoner who has escaped from custody serving final judgment or temporarily confined during the pendency of his case or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.[6]

For a warrantless arrest under Section 5 (a) to operate, two (2) elements must concur, namely: (a) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (b) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.[7] On the other hand, Section 5 (b) requires for its application that at the time of the arrest, an offense had in fact just been committed and the arresting officer had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the accused had committed it.[8]

[1] Section 2, Article III of the Constitution states:

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

[2] Section 3 (2), Article III of the Constitution states:
Section 3. x x x x

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

[3] See Ambre v. People, 692 Phil. 681, 693 (2012).

[4] Id., citing People v. Delos Reyes, 672 Phil. 77, 108-109 (2011).

[5] Malacat v. CA, 347 Phil. 462, 480 (1997); citations omitted.

[6] See id. at 479.

[7] People v. Villareal, G.R. No. 201363, March 18, 2013, 693 SCRA 549, 556, citing Valdez v. People, 563 Phil. 934, 947 (2007).

[8] Id. at 556, citing People v. Cuizon, 326 Phil. 345 (1996).

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