I signed the Roll of Lawyers on 6 May 2014. I celebrated my 5th anniversary in practice just this year. From the very start I practiced criminal law; it is quite difficult not to practice criminal law when you are a neophyte lawyer and you have the confidence to start your own law office right away, instead of being an associate lawyer in some established office. Defending in court those accused of crime became my main source of income. (I also have civil cases, including annulment of marriage cases, but these constitute a minor percentage of my entire case load.)
I have not kept track of the number of cases I have handled. In February 2015, when the Habeas Corpuz and Vincent Isles Law Offices (HCVILO) which I organized with Atty. Habeas Corpuz, now an investigator with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) folded up, I started numbering the folders (not cases, but folders) of the cases I inherited from that firm. I kept the numbering of folders, although there was no clear rule on how it was done. Right now the latest case I accepted is in folder no. 453.
I never had an accused-client convicted on the merits, however – until now.
The incident in this case occurred on 22 September 2014. It was filed in court on 27 January 2016 and it entered my dockets on 22 March 2016. The court which handled this case is one of the more efficient courts in Cebu City, so it was resolved after a period of 3 years and 4 months.
This is not the first time that I had a client convicted, of course. This is the first time that the conviction was on the merits. My first conviction was a plea bargaining on illegal possession of firearms to Section 31 of the law, which allowed my client to apply for probation. Later, when the Supreme Court adopted the Plea Bargaining Framework in Drugs Cases, a lot of my clients took the opportunity. My first one was granted in May 2018 itself (the Office of the Court Administrator disclosed on 4 May 2018 the adoption of the Framework by the Supreme Court a month earlier).
Looking back, I should have allowed my client to settle for the PHP 20,000.00 each that the two private complainants were asking. The final award of damages were more or less in that amount. The only consolation here is that the court convicted my client of Simple Imprudence Resulting in Multiple Physical Injuries, imposing upon him a straight penalty of One month and one day of Arresto Mayor (the law imposes Arresto Mayor in its Minimum Period), not Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Multiple Physical Injuries, which carries with it the penalty of Arresto Mayor in its Minimum and Medium Periods).