BURGUNDY REALTY CORPORATION VS. REYES, 687 SCRA 524
Josefa “Jing” Reyes offered her services to petitioner as the latter’s real estate agent in buying parcels of land in Calamba, Laguna, which are to be developed into a golf course. She informed the petitioner that more or less then (10) lot owners are her clients who were willing to sell their properties. Convinced of her representations, petitioner released the amount of P23,423,327.50 in her favor to be used in buying those parcels of land.
Reyes, instead of buying those parcels of land, converted and misappropriated the money given by petitioner to her personal use and benefit. Petitioner sent a formal demand for Reyes to return the amount of P23,423,327.50, but to no avail despite her receipt of the said demand.
As such, petitioner filed a complaint for the crime of Estafa against Reyes before the Assistant Prosecutor’s Office of Makati City. The respondent admitted that she in fact received the said amount from the petitioner, but she gave the money to a certain Mateo Elejorde whom she filed a criminal case for misappropriating the said funds. That she has no intention to take the said amount for her personal benefit. The prosecutor found probable cause against the respondent and filed information before the RTC. Respondent appealed the said resolution of the prosecutor to the Secretary of Justice, which was first denied but subsequently granted on reconsideration. DOJ ordered the prosecutor to withdraw the said information. Petitioner asked the CA for review with was denied. Hence this case.
Whether probable cause exist in filing the information against the accused
Yes, that the finding of probable cause was made after conducting a preliminary investigation. A preliminary investigation constitutes a realistic judicial appraisal of the merits of a case. Its purpose is to determine whether (a) a crime has been committed; and (b) whether there is a probable cause to believe that the accused is guilty thereof. That in a preliminary investigation, the public prosecutor merely determines whether there is probable cause or sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed, and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. It does not call for the application of rules and standards of proof that a judgment of conviction requires after trial on the merits. The complainant need not present at this stage proof beyond reasonable doubt. A preliminary investigation does not require a full and exhaustive presentation of the parties’ evidence. Precisely, there is a trial to allow the reception of evidence for both parties to substantiate their respective claims.