Bar Q and A #27

a. A minor charged with a crime punishable with reclusion perpetua is entitled to bail as a matter of right. Under Article 68 of the Revised Penal Code, in case of conviction the penalty would be one degree lower than reclusion perpetua. This rules out reclusion perpetua. [Bravo v. Borja,134 SCRA 466 (1985)]

b. Bail is a matter of discretion for a minor charged with an offense punishable with life imprisonment, because Article 68 of the Revised Penal Code is inapplicable and he is not entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance under it. [People v. Lagasca, 148 SCRA 264 (1987)]

c. Bail is a matter of discretion for an accused convicted of homicide on a charge of murder, because an appeal opens the whole case of review. There is a possibility that he may be convicted of murder, which is punishable with reclusion perpetua to death. His conviction shows the evidence of his guilt is strong. [Obosa v. CA, 266 SCRA 281 (1997)]

A law denying persons charged with crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua or death the right to be bail is unconstitutional, because according to the constitution, ”[A]all persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law.”

As a rule, bail is a matter of right even in capital offense, unless it is determined, after due hearing, that the evidence of his guilt is strong (Section 13, Article III of the Constitution; Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended).

The two presumptions can be reconciled. The presumption of innocence stands until the contrary is proved. It may be overcome by a contrary presumption founded upon human experience. The presumption that RR is the one who stole the cattle of OZ is logical, since he was found in possession of the stolen cattle. RR can prove his innocence by presenting evidence to rebut the presumption. The burden of evidence is shifted to RR, because how he came into possession of the cattle is peculiarly within his knowledge (Dizon-Pamintuan v. People, 234 SCRA 63).

The grant of the motion for postponement would not have violated the right of the accused to speedy trial. As held In People v. Leviste, 255 SCRA 238, since the motion for postponement was the first one requested, the need for the offended party to attend to a professional commitment is a valid reason, no substantial right of the accused would be prejudiced, and the prosecution should be afforded a fair opportunity to prosecute its case, the motion should be granted.

The best answer is (c), ordering the accused to produce a sample of his handwriting to be used as evidence to prove that he is the author of a letter in which he agreed to kill the victim as this will violate his right against  self-incrimination. Writing is not a purely mechanical act, because it requires the application of intelligence and attention. Producing a sample of his handwriting may identify him as the writer of the letter (Beltran v. Samson, 53 Phil. 570, [1929]).

The argument is untenable. Since the IUB officials were not being subjected to a criminal penalty, they cannot invoke their right against self-incrimination unless a question calling for an incriminating answer is propounded (Standard Chartered Bank v. Senate Committee, 541 SCRA 456 [2007]).