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People v.

Abe Valdez
September 25, 2000 | Quisumbing
Warrantless search presumed unreasonable, protects persons, not places, plain view
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DOCTRINE: Warrantless search presumed unreasonable, protects persons, not places, plain view
CASE SUMMARY: Police seized marijuana plants and arrested the alleged owner without warrant

FACTS:
 One morning, the Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya police received a tip about the presence of a marijuana plantation up
the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya near the nipa hut of its owner
 The team was assembled by the police to inspect the said area with an order to uproot the plants and arrest the
cultivator
 They left early morning the next day. After three hours of hiking, they arrived at the kaingin place pinpointed by
the informant
 They found Valdez in his nipa hut and they looked around and saw seven five-foot high marijuana plants
 The police uprooted the plants and took photos of Valdez standing beside the cannabis plants
 The uprooted plants were sent to the PNP Crime Lab in Nueva Vizcaya where it was confirmed that they were
marijuana plants
Defense:
- He was tending to his vegetables one morning when someone called him to “see something”
- He was brought to the place where the cannabis plants were and he was made to stand beside them and
photographs were taken by the police
- After, he was asked if he knew anything about the marijuana growing there
- He denied knowledge but one of the officers threatened to punch him that is why he admitted to be the owner
- The plants belong to Pascua, who has a grudge against him
- He was pointed because he didn’t join Pascua’s illegal logging venture

RTC – Guilty of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act. Penalty of Death by lethal injection
Reasons:
- The plants were in plain view of the officers – valid warrantless search
- The accused admitted that he was the owner of the plants

ISSUE: W/N the search and seizure of marijuana is lawful and w/n they are admissible in evidence –
RULING: NO. - Acquitted
1) Illegal Search and Seizure, 2) Inadmissible in evidence, 3) hearsay admission

Warrantless search presumed unreasonable
The Constitution lays down the general rule that a search and seizure must be carried on the strength of a judicial
warrant. Otherwise, the search and seizure is deemed "unreasonable."

Evidence procured on the occasion of an unreasonable search and seizure is deemed tainted for being the proverbial fruit
of a poisonous tree and should be excluded. Such evidence shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any
proceeding

In this case, there was no search warrant issued by the judge despite that they still had at least one day to obtain one
Instead, they uprooted the plants and apprehended the accused on the excuse that the trip was a good six hours and
inconvenient to them. The mantle of protection extended by the Bill of Rights covers both innocent and guilty alike against
any form of high-handedness of law enforcers, regardless of the praiseworthiness of their intentions.

Plain View?
For the doctrine to apply, the following elements must be present:
(a) a prior valid intrusion based on the valid warrantless arrest in which the police are legally present in the
pursuit of their official duties;
(b) the evidence was inadvertently discovered by the police who have the right to be where they are; and
(c) the evidence must be immediately apparent; and
(d) plain view justified mere seizure of evidence without further search

(2) it must be made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel. The moment the police try to elicit admissions or confessions or even plain information from a person suspected of having committed an offense. if it was made without assistance of counsel and without a valid waiver of such assistance. it must satisfy the following requirements: (1) it must be voluntary. not places Nor can we sustain the trial court's conclusion that just because the marijuana plants were found in an unfenced lot. To conclude otherwise would not only mean swimming against the stream. without the assistance of counsel at the time of his arrest and even before his formal investigation is not only inadmissible for being violative of the right to counsel during criminal investigations.The police team was dispatched to appellant's kaingin precisely to search for and uproot the prohibited flora. As appellant correctly points out. both the object evidence and the testimonial evidence as to appellant's voluntary confession of ownership of the prohibited plants relied upon to prove appellant's guilt failed to meet the test of Constitutional competence. accordingly. within a fenced yard or a private place. he must be in his home or office. The Constitution plainly declares that any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right: (1) to remain silent. An investigation begins when it is no longer a general inquiry but starts to focus on a particular person as a suspect. His right to competent and independent counsel. We also note the testimony of SPO2 Tipay that upon arriving at the area. The right against unreasonable searches and seizures is the immunity of one's person. appellants failure to impute any false motive for the police officers to falsely accuse him indicates that the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties by police officers was not sufficiently rebutted. Extrajudicial confession flawed with respect to admissibility For a confession to be admissible. unless he waives the right in writing and in the presence of counsel. when the police investigator starts interrogating or exacting a confession from the suspect in connection with an alleged offense. regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given In sum. (2) to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. The records show that the admission by appellant was verbal. it would also lead to the absurd logic that for a person to be immune against unreasonable searches and seizures. appellant could not invoke the protection afforded by the Charter against unreasonable searches by agents of the State. Even if the confession or admission were "gospel truth". his papers. they first had to "look around the area" before they could spot the illegal plants.. the confession is inadmissible in evidence. The guarantee refers to "the right of personal security” of the individual. and other possessions. he should at that juncture be assisted by counsel. which includes his residence. the seized marijuana plants were not "immediately apparent" and a "further search" was needed. Clearly. and (4) it must be in writing. The seizure of evidence in "plain view" applies only where the police officer is not searching for evidence against the accused. Moreover. Protection of Persons. i. it is also hearsay. and (3) to be informed of such rights. what is sought to be protected against the State's unlawful intrusion are persons. The Bill of Rights belongs as much to the person in the street as to the individual in the sanctuary of his bedroom. their discovery of the cannabis plants was not inadvertent. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. Admission of the accused was done without counsel – Inadmissible The OSG avers that appellant was not yet under custodial investigation when he admitted to the police that he owned the marijuana plants. had not yet attached. Patently. DISPOSITION: Appellant is ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED immediately from confinement unless held for another lawful cause. . It was also uncounselled. (3) it must be express.e. not places. but inadvertently comes across an incriminating object. A verbal admission allegedly made by an accused during the investigation.