Supreme Court: online filing of complaint, bail now available

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Supreme Court now allows online filing of complaint and bail online amid its “physical closure” and the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

SC Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta issued Administrative Circular No. 33 Tuesday, detailing the guidelines on the online filing, which aims to “further limit the physical movement of our court users, judges, and personnel during this period of public health emergency.”

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“This will enable the courts to digitally act on the matters covered by this Circular, thereby reducing the necessity of the judge and court staff to physically travel to their stations,” said the circular.

How to do online filing of complaint, bail as per the Supreme Court

  • Criminal charges and information along with supporting documents may be filed through email before first or second-level courts
  • The second-level courts include Municipal Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Courts, and Regional Trial Courts
  • Within three days from the filing of the complaint, the judge on duty will evaluate the case and may choose to dismiss it if the evidence on record fails to establish probable cause.
  • A warrant or commitment order may be issued if the judge finds probable cause.

“In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the Judge on duty may order the prosecutor to submit, through electronic transmission, additional evidence within 3 days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within ten days from the filing of the complaint or Information,” the order read.

For posting bail

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  • Requirements for the posting of a bond may also be electronically transmitted to the court.
  • The judge will examine the documents and “if complete and compliant, shall sign the approval of the bail and the consequent release order.”
  • The judge may also opt to “reduce the amount of bail initially fixed,” upon motion of the accused and comment of the prosecution.
  • The Office of the Court Administrator will “identify and inform the respective courts of the available accredited sureties which may whenever necessary, promptly issue the appropriate bail bonds during this public health emergency period.”
  • The judge shall then electronically transmit the approval of bail and issuance of a release order to the executive judge. These will be sent on the same day to the law enforcement authority or detention facility.

“The electronically transmitted approval of bail and release order by the Executive Judge shall be sufficient to cause the release of the accused,” Peralta added.

“Unless otherwise directed, this procedure shall be in effect only during this duration of public health emergency declared by the president following existing law,” Peralta also said.

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