Arbitrary Detention (Notes)

Art. 124. Arbitrary detention. — Any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person, shall suffer:

  1. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the detention has not exceeded three days;
  2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the detention has continued more than three but not more than fifteen days;
  3. The penalty of prision mayor, if the detention has continued for more than fifteen days but not more than six months; and
  4. That of reclusion temporal, if the detention shall have exceeded six months.

The commission of a crime, or violent insanity or any other ailment requiring the compulsory confinement of the patient in a hospital, shall be considered legal grounds for the detention of any person.


  • Any public officer or employee vested with the authority to detain or order the detention of persons accused of a crime. Their liability under Art. 124 ensues when they detain a person without having any legal ground therefor.

  • The prevailing jurisprudence on kidnapping and illegal l detention is that the curtailment of the victim’s liberty need not involve physical restraint upon the victim’s person. If the acts or actuations of the accused can produce such fear in the mind of the victim sufficient to paralyze the latter, to the extent that the victim is compelled to limit his own actions and movements in accordance with the wishes of the accused, then the victim is, for all intents and purposes, detained against his will. (Astorga vs. People, GR No. 154130, 01 October 2003, 412 SCRA 512)
  • The determinative factor in Arbitrary Detention, IN THE ABSENCE of physical restraint, is FEAR. (Supra)
  • A person is detained when he is placeds in confinement or there is restraint on his person. (US vs. Cabanag, 8 Phil. 64)
  1. WHAT ARE CONSIDERED “LEGAL GROUNDS” IN DETAINING A PERSON? (Paragraph 2, Article 124, Revised Penal Code of the Philippines)
  • The commission of a crime;
  • Violent insanity, or any other ailment requiring the compulsory confinement of the patient in a hospital.
  • When the person has not committed any crime or, at least, there is no reasonable ground to believe that he has committed a crime; and
  • When the person detained was not suffering from violent insanity or any other ailment that will require his compulsory confinement in a hospital.
  • The peace officer has no warrant of arrest, properly issued by the court, to justify the arrest (of the detained person); or
  • The requisites of valid warrantless arrest were not complied with.
  • GENERAL RULE: A peace officer / arresting officer must have a warrant of arrest properly issued by the court of competent jurisdiction in order to effect and justify the arrest. If there is no such warrant, the arrest of a person may constitute arbitrary detention.
  • However, there are instances when arrest without warrant is LAWFUL: (Section 5, Rule 113, Rules of Court)
  • When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is committing, or is attempting to commit an offense
  • A crime is said to be committed in “in his (arresting officer’s) presence” when the (1) arresting officer sees the offense being committed, although at a distance; (2) hears the disturbance created thereby and proceeds at once to the scene thereof; or (3) when the offense is continuing or has not been consummated at the time the arrest is made.
  • When an offense has in fact just been committed and the arresting officer has probable cause to believe, based on his personal knowledge of facts and circumstances, that the person to be arrested has committed it.
  • PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE contemplated under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court means that the arrest must be based in actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. (Such belief must be based on facts and circumstances that sufficient to raise the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably the one who committed the offense.)
  • PROBABLE CAUSE are such facts and circumstances that could lead a reasonably prudent and discreet man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person sought to be arrested is probably guilty thereof. (Here, the arresting person need not be present in the scene, so long as such probable cause exists.)
  • Under prevailing case laws, the High Court had emphasized that in arrests without warrant, it is
  • not enough that there is reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed the crime. A crime must in fact or actually have been committed first.
  • In warrantless arrest based on probable cause, it is not necessary to prove the indubitable existence of a crime or establish its requisites, which at the time of its commission is not and cannot be determined due to the lack of necessary data and jurisdiction. In making the arrest, it is sufficient for the person in authority that he has reasonably sufficient ground to believe the existence of an act having characteristics of a crime and that the same grounds exist for him to believe that the person sought to be detained participated therein.
  • When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving sentence by final judgment, or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.
  • Rationale: This is founded on the principle that at the time of the arrest, the escapee is in the continuous act of committing a crime of Evasion of Service of his sentence.
  • Arbitrary detention may be committed by a public officer or employee even without malice or deliberate intent. In this situation, AD is committed through imprudence, which shall be covered and penalized under paragraph 2, Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.


Reference: Criminal Law Vol. II, J.B.L. Reyes

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