Bail in the Philippines: Matter of Right or Discretion?

Bail as a matter of right or discretion Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices Image

What is bail? May everybody post bail?

These questions are the common ones raised by public whenever one is apprehended for the commission of a crime, but answers are sometimes not concrete enough to illuminate them.

What Law Governs Bail in the Philippines?

Bail is guaranteed by Section 13, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and it states:

“SECTION 13. 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. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.”

In People of the Philippines vs. Manuel Escobar, G.R. No. 214300, 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court unequivocally stated that the right to bail is cognate to the fundamental right to be presumed innocent.

Procedurally, Rule 114 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure governs the application for bail, and under Section 1 thereof, bail is defined as the security given for the release of a person in custody of the law to guarantee his appearance before any court. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)

It is therefore clear from the definition that one can only apply for bail when that person is in custody of the law. When does one considered to be in custody of the law?

When someone is arrested, it means that the person is placed in custody in order that he may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense. As a basic rule in criminal procedure, the arresting officer has the duty to deliver the arrested person to the nearest police station or jail without unnecessary delay.

What are the Forms of Bail or Bond?

Bail is not always in cash. It may be given in the form of corporate surety, property bond, cash deposit, or recognizance. The choice lies with the applicant.

What are the Conditions of Bail?  

Under the Rules, all kinds of bail are subject to the following conditions, which shall be followed, otherwise, the bail will be forfeited.

  1. The undertaking shall be effective upon approval, and unless cancelled, shall remain in force at all stages of the case
  2. The accused shall appear before the proper court whenever required by the court or by the Rules of Court.
  3. The failure of the accused to appear at the trial without justification and despite due notice shall be deemed a waiver of his right to be present thereat.
  4. The bondsman shall surrender the accused to the court for execution of the final judgment.

When Is Bail a Matter of Right?

Section 4 of Rule 114 states that all persons in custody shall be admitted to bail as a matter of right:

  1. Before or after conviction by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, or Municipal Circuit Trial Court;
  2. Before conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment; and
  3. Before judgment of conviction by RTC of an offense punishable by Death, Reclusion Perpetua or Life Imprisonment and evidence of guilt is not strong.

When Is Bail A Matter of Discretion?

  1. Before judgment of conviction by the RTC of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, and the evidence of guilt is strong.
  2. After judgment of conviction by the RTC of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment
  3. After judgment of conviction by the RTC and the penalty imposed is imprisonment exceeding 6 years but less than death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, and any of the following bail-negating circumstances is present:
    1. That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;
    2. That he has previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without valid justification;
    3. That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon;
    4. That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or
    5. That there is undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.

4. Upon finality of judgment of conviction unless the Accused file an application for probation.

Who has the burden of proof to show that evidence of guilt is strong?

At the hearing of an application for bail filed by a person who is in custody for the commission of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, the prosecution has the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong.

How much is the bail?

The judge who issued the warrant or granted the application for bail shall fix a reasonable amount of bail taking into consideration several factors. However, excessive bail shall not be required as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Normally, the judge who issued the warrant or granted the application for bail will take into consideration the bail recommended in the Bail Bond Guide issued by the Department of Justice. This, however, is not binding but greatly persuasive, as ultimately, the constitutional duty of granting bail lies with the judge.

Furthermore, the accused may file a Motion to Reduce Bail. If accused is acquitted, he gets back what he deposited, unless forfeited for violating the conditions of the bail.

About Nicolas and De Vega Law Offices

If you need assistance in  civil or other criminal law-related issues,  we can help you. Nicolas and de Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines.  You may visit us at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, 1605 Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.  You may also call us at +632 84706126, +632 84706130, +632 84016392 or e-mail us at [email protected]. Visit our website https://ndvlaw.com.

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