Presumption of innocence

LAW EACH WEEK

How is the Presumption of Innocence applied?

Every circumstance favoring the innocence of the accused must be considered. The proof against him must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment (People v. Austria, G.R. No. 55109, April 8, 1991)

Who may invoke the presumption of innocence?

It can be invoked only by an individual accused of a criminal offense.

What is the Equipoise Rule?

Under this rule, when the evidence of both sides are equally balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence should tilt the scales in favor of the accused (Corpuz v. People, G.R. No. 74259, Feb. 14, 1991)

The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City rendered a decision convicting Judge Angeles of violation of R.A. 7610, otherwise known as the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.” The criminal cases are now on appeal before the Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Velasco suggested the immediate suspension of Angeles. He posited that since Judge Angeles stands convicted of two counts of child abuse, her moral qualification as a judge is in question. Judge Angeles manifested that she still enjoys the presumption of innocence since the criminal cases are on appeal. Does she still enjoy the presumption of innocence if the judgment convicting her is on appeal?

Yes. Judge Angeles still enjoys constitutional presumption of innocence. Since her conviction of the crime of child abuse is currently on appeal, the same has not yet attained finality. She still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence. It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, proves the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until the accused’s guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence continues. (Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles, A.M. No. 069545RTC, Jan. 31, 2008)