Published 22 January 2021, The Daily Tribune
Following our previous discussion on warrantless arrests, this article tackles the second and third grounds for arrests without warrant.
Under paragraph (b) of Rule 113, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, a person may be arrested without a warrant when an offense has just been committed and the person making the arrest has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it. This is also known as a hot pursuit arrest.
To be valid, first, there must be probable cause; second, the crime has just been committed, and third, that the person making the warrantless arrest has personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.
Differentiating it from an in flagrante delicto arrest, in hot pursuit, law enforcers need not personally witness the commission of a crime. However, they must have personal knowledge of facts and circumstances indicating that the person sought to be arrested committed it (Sapi vs. People, G.R. No. 200370, June 7, 2017).
Personal knowledge of facts must be based on probable cause, which means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense is based on actual facts, that is, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion, therefore, must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest (Abelita v. Doria et al., G.R. No. 170672, August 14, 2009).
As held in Pestilos vs. Generoso (G.R. No. 182601, November 10, 2014), while the arresting officer, the public prosecutor and the judge all determine “probable cause,” within the spheres of their respective functions, its existence is influenced heavily by the available facts and circumstance within their possession. The common standard among them is the standard of a reasonable man, although there are different quantity of facts or circumstances, as set by the rules, upon which they must determine probable cause.
In a hot pursuit arrest, the clincher in the element of ”personal knowledge of facts or circumstances” is the required component of immediacy within which these facts or circumstances should be gathered. This required time element acts as a safeguard to ensure that the police officers have gathered the facts or perceived the circumstances within a very limited time frame. The reason for immediacy is the consideration that, as the time gap from the commission of the crime to the arrest widens, the pieces of information gathered are prone to become contaminated and subjected to external factors, interpretations and hearsay (Pestilos vs. Generoso, supra). If there was an appreciable lapse of time between the arrest and the commission of the crime, a warrant of arrest must be secured.
Instances where a hot pursuit arrest has been invalidated include one where, on the basis of the supposed identification of witnesses, there was an attempt to arrest two suspects three days after the commission of the crime. With this set of facts, it cannot be said that the officers have personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the persons sought to be arrested committed the crime. Hence, the Court invalidated the warrantless arrest (Posadas v. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 131492, September 29, 2000).
In another instance, the arrest was made only a day after the commission of the crime and not immediately thereafter. They became aware of the respondent’s identity as the driver of the getaway vehicle only during the custodial investigation following his arrest, hence, the police had no personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed the offense (People v. del Rosario, G.R. No. 127755, April 14, 1999).
On the third mode of warrantless arrest, aside from in flagrante delicto and hot pursuit, a person may be arrested without a warrant if he or she is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he or she is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his or her case is pending or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
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