Warrantless arrest

When can police officers legally make an arrest without a warrant?

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec 5.  Arrest without warrant, when lawful – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it;  and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

Evidence gathered from an unlawful search and seizure is not admissible as evidence.  The Supreme Court summarizes the rule as follows:

Corolarilly, the 1987 Constitution states that a search and consequent seizure must be carried out with a judicial warrant; otherwise, it becomes unreasonable and any evidence obtained therefrom shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.  Said proscription, however, admits of exceptions, namely:

1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

2. Search of evidence in “plain view;”

3. Search of a moving vehicle;

4. Consented warrantless search;

5. Customs search;

6. Stop and Frisk; and

7. Exigent and emergency circumstances.

What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.

In searches incident to a lawful arrest, the arrest must precede the search; generally, the process cannot be reversed.  Nevertheless, a search substantially contemporaneous with an arrest can precede the arrest if the police have probable cause to make the arrest at the outset of the search. Although probable cause eludes exact and concrete definition, it ordinarily signifies a reasonable ground of suspicion supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a cautious man to believe that the person accused is guilty of the offense with which he is charged.

(Stephen Sy y Tibagong vs. People of the PhilippinesG.R. No. 182178. August 15, 2011).

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