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Leviste v. Alameda, et. al., G.R. No. 182677, Aug.

Crim Pro - Rule 110

On January 16, 2007, an Information was filed against Jose Antonio Leviste charging him with
homicide for the death of Rafael de las Alas on January 12, 2007 before the RTC of Makati. The private
complainants-heirs of de las Alas filed an Urgent Omnibus Motion praying for the deferment of the
proceedings to allow the public prosecutor to re-examine the evidence on record or to conduct a
reinvestigation to determine the proper offense. The RTC thereafter issued the Order granting the motion
by the complainants, thus, allowing the prosecution to conduct a reinvestigation. Later, the trial court issued
the other order that admitted the Amended Information for murder and directed the issuance of a warrant
of arrest. Petitioner questioned these two orders before the appellate court.

Upon arraignment, the petitioner refused to plead. The trial court entered the plea of "not guilty" for
him. Prior to this, the petitioner filed an Urgent Application for Admission to Bail Ex Abundanti Cautela,
which the trial court granted on the ground that the evidence of guilt of the crime of murder is not strong.
The trial court went on to try the petitioner under the Amended Information. Then, the trial court found the
petitioner guilty of homicide. From the trial court's decision, the petitioner filed an appeal to the CA. The
appellate court confirmed the decision of the trial court. The petitioner's motion for reconsideration was
denied. Hence, this petition to the SC.

Issue: Whether or not the amendment of the Information from homicide to murder is considered a
substantial amendment, which would make it not just a right but a duty of the prosecution to ask for a
preliminary investigation.

Held: Yes. A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and
determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are merely of form. The test as to whether a
defendant is prejudiced by the amendment is whether a defense under the information as it originally stood
would be available after the amendment is made, and whether any evidence defendant might have would
be equally applicable to the information in the one form as in the other.

An amendment to an information which does not change the nature of the crime alleged therein
does not affect the essence of the offense or cause surprise or deprive the accused of an opportunity to
meet the new averment had each been held to be one of form and not of substance. here is no substantial
distinction between a preliminary investigation and a reinvestigation since both are conducted in the same
manner and for the same objective of determining whether there exists sufficient ground to engender a
well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof and
should be held for trial.
What is essential is that petitioner was placed on guard to defend himself from the charge of murder
after the claimed circumstances were made known to him as early as the first motion. Petitioner did not,
however, make much of the opportunity to present countervailing evidence on the proposed amended
charge. Despite notice of hearing, petitioner opted to merely observe the proceedings and declined to
actively participate, even with extreme caution, in the reinvestigation.