Amending criminal information

In one case, in the original information, the charge of estafa was extrapolated into two charges based on the manner the defraudation was committed within a span of eight years. It was upon Quiambao's own motion that the RTC directed the OCP-Pasig to state with particularity when the alleged acts that led to the defraudation were committed.[1]Although the precise date of the commission of the offense is not required to be stated in the information unless it is a material ingredient[2] — and the time of occurrence is not a material ingredient of the crime of estafa, Quiambao's concern was well-taken by the RTC. However, the RTC did not grant the motion to quash as it is clearly provided by the Rules of Criminal Procedure that if the motion to quash is based on an alleged defect in the information which can be cured by amendment, the court shall order the amendment to be made.[3]

In this regard, Section 14 of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure governs the matter of amending the information:
Amendment or substitution. A complaint or information may be amended, in form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.

However, any amendment before plea, which downgrades the nature of the offense charged in or excludes any accused from the complaint or information, can be made only upon motion by the prosecutor, with notice to the offended party and with leave of court. The court shall state its reasons in resolving the motion and copies of its order shall be furnished all parties, especially the offended party.
There is no precise definition of what constitutes a substantial amendment. According to jurisprudence, substantial matters in the complaint or information consist of the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. Under Section 14, however, the prosecution is given the right to amend the information, regardless of the nature of the amendment, so long as the amendment is sought before the accused enters his plea, subject to the qualification under the second paragraph of Section 14.

Once the accused is arraigned and enters his plea, however, Section 14 prohibits the prosecution from seeking a substantial amendment, particularly mentioning those that may prejudice the rights of the accused. One of these rights is the constitutional right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against him, a right which is given life during the arraignment of the accused of the charge against him. The theory in law is that since the accused officially begins to prepare his defense against the accusation on the basis of the recitals in the information read to him during arraignment, then the prosecution must establish its case on the basis of the same information.[4]

"Amendments that do not charge another offense different from that charged in the original one; or do not alter the prosecution's theory of the case so as to cause surprise to the accused and affect the form of defense he has or will assume are considered merely as formal amendments."[5]


[2] See Corpuz v. People 734 Phil. 353, 393 (2014), in relation to the RULES OF COURT, Rule 110, Sec. 11.

[3] People v. Andrade, 747 Phil. 703. 706 (2014). (Emphasis supplied ).

[4] Dr. Mendez v. People, 736 Phil. 181, 191-192 (2014).

[5] Id. at l93.