Serafin v Lindayag; A.M. No. 297-MJ; 30 Sep 1975; 67 SCRA 166

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A criminal complaint for estafa filed against complainant did not charge any crime but merely recited her failure to pay a simple indebtedness. Respondent judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

Whether or not respondent judge erred in ordering complainant’s imprisonment for non-payment of debt.

YES. In admitting such a “criminal complaint” that was plainly civil in aspects from the very face of the complaint and the “evidence” presented, and issuing on the same day the warrant of arrest upon his utterly baseless finding “that the accused is probably guilty of the crime charged,” respondent grossly failed to perform his duties properly – which in this instance was to dismiss the complaint outright since it is elementary that non-payment of an indebtedness is not a criminal act, much less estafa; and that no one may be criminally charged and punished for non-payment of a loan of a sum of money.

Respondent judge is DISMISSED as municipal judge.

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