People v Espanola; G.R. No. 119308; 18 Apr 1997; 271 SCRA 689

FACTS:
Appellants were identified in a police lineup as suspects in an investigation. Appellant Paquingan manifested his intention to confess after the information for rape with homicide was filed. Not having a counsel of his own choice, he was provided with the services of Atty. Leo Cahanap, a city legal officer, and Atty. Susan Echavez. Appellant Paquingan confessed but refused to sign the stenographic notes. His sworn statement was transcribed but only the two lawyers signed.

ISSUE(S):
Whether or not appellant was entitled to the right to counsel after an information for rape with homicide had already been filed.

RULING:
NO. The right to counsel applies in certain pretrial proceedings that can be considered “critical stages” in the criminal process. Custodial interrogation before or after charges have been filed and non-custodial interrogations after the accused has been formally charged are considered to be critical pretrial stages. The investigation after Paquingan has been formally charged with the crime of rape with homicide, is a critical pretrial stage during which the right to counsel applies. The right to counsel means right to competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice.

Assailed decision is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION.

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Category: Legal Chyme

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