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In brief

On 22 September 2023, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) issued OCA Circular 335-2023, providing instructions for trial courts in instances where the prosecution seeks dismissal of criminal cases, based on the new evidentiary standard — “lack of prima facie evidence or reasonable certainty to sustain a conviction” — adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this year.

In more detail

The OCA has issued a fresh set of instructions to all trial court judges when resolving requests for dismissals in criminal cases. OCA Circular 335-2023 follows the DOJ’s series of circulars that modify criminal procedure in the Philippines, by introducing the “reasonable certainty of conviction” standard when pursuing criminal cases, and implementing procedures that ensure proactive involvement by prosecutors during case build-up. Our briefer on the DOJ Circulars can be found here.

Under the OCA Circular — where the prosecution seeks dismissal of criminal cases and files a Motion to Withdraw Information or Motion to Dismiss based on “lack of prima facie evidence or reasonable certainty to sustain a conviction” — trial court judges are directed to: (a) not outrightly deny such request on the ground that the court has already made a determination of probable cause; and (b) instead, carefully assess and evaluate independently the evidence so far presented by the prosecution in each case. 

The circular explains that this is “to prevent the further clogging of court dockets and to uphold the rights of the accused to be relieved from going through a trial, once the court ascertains that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction.” 

Why this is relevant to you

With the issuance of OCA Circular 335-2023, parties to criminal cases may expect trial courts to be more accommodating to requests for dismissal.  Parties to ongoing or prospective criminal cases may therefore need to consider re-evaluating their evidence (if a complainant) or defense (if an accused) from the perspective of the “reasonable certainty of conviction” standard.

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*Authored by Quisumbing Torres, a member firm of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein. Please contact for inquiries.



Jared is a senior associate in Quisumbing Torres' Dispute Resolution Practice Group. He heads the Firm's Transportation and Logistics Industry Group Subsector. Jared has 10 years of litigation experience, with a particular focus on criminal litigation and arbitration.
He is one of a handful of Philippine Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) and the Philippine Institute of Arbitrators (FPIArb). He is an accredited arbitrator of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. (PDRCI) and an accredited arbitrator and mediator of the Philippine Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM). Jared sat as an arbitrator in the first WESM arbitrations in the Philippines, and has acted as counsel in ad hoc and institutional arbitrations.
He conducts MCLE lectures on commercial arbitration, and has co-authored a book on the matter. He currently teaches Civil Procedure and Sales Law at the Far Eastern University Institute of Law. He is also a supervising lawyer at the Ateneo Legal Services Center, where he oversees students in handling pro bono cases.
Jared studied at the Ateneo Law School (2010) where he received the Dean's Silver Medal for his J.D. thesis on foreign arbitral awards. He served as president of the Ateneo Society of International Law and was part of teams that represented the Philippines and won in moot court competitions in Florida (1st runner-up; 2007 Stetson International Environmental Law Moot Court Competition) and Japan (1st; 2008 Asia Cup International Law Moot Court Competition).


Stephanie Denise E. Dos Santos is an associate in Quisumbing Torres. She works with various practice groups in the firm, including Corporate & Commercial/M&A, Dispute Resolution and Employment. Stephanie graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 2022 with a Dean's Medal for Academic Excellence.

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