Look: SC restates rules on plea bargaining involving drugs cases

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The Supreme Court en banc reiterated in A.M. No. 18-03-16-SC or the Adoption of the Plea Bargaining Framework in Drug Cases, guiding judges on the offenses falling under acceptable plea bargain agreement.

The Court, in separate resolutions in A.M. No. 18-03-16-SC issued in 2018 and 2019, held, among others, that plea bargaining in drugs cases is allowed and probation may be availed of only in the following instances:

1. When the accused is charged with possession of dangerous drugs under Section 11 of RA 9165 and the quantity of “shabu” is less than 5 grams or in case of marijuana, it is less than 300 grams.

2. When the accused is charged under Section 5 of RA 9165 with the sale of “shabu” and the quantity found in his/her possession is less than 1 gram; or if marijuana only, it is less than 10 grams.

3. When the accused is charged under Section 13 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs During Parties, Social Gatherings or Meetings) in relation to Section 11 of RA 9165 and the quantity of the dangerous drug in his/her possession is less than 5 grams; or in case it is marijuana, the quantity is less than 300 grams.

4. When the accused is an employee or a visitor of a drug den, dive or resort provided that he/she is charged solely under Section 7 of RA 9165, and there is no other person charged for maintaining the said drug den, dive, or resort.

Plea Bargaining is also allowed when an accused is charged with possession of “shabu” weighing 5 to 9.99 grams; or of marijuana weighing 300 to 499 grams. However, probation of the accused will not be allowed in such instances.

No plea bargaining is allowed in the following instances:

A. Possession of 10 grams or more of”shabu.”

B. Possession of 500 grams or more of marijuana.

C. Sale of “shabu” exclusively, with a quantity of 1.00 gram or more.

D. Sale of marijuana exclusively, with a quantity of 10 grams or more.

E. Sale of all other kinds of dangerous drugs.

OCA Circular No. 80-2019 and OCA Circular No. 104-2019 were subsequently issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez on May 30, 2019 and July 5, 2019, respectively, reiterating to all second level courts the strict observance to the said A.M. No. 18-03-16-SC.

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