Indeterminate Sentence Law/Probation Law


(Act No. 4103, as amended, Dec. 5, 1933)

The purpose of the law is to uplift and redeem valuable human material and prevent unnecessary and excessive deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness. (People v. Onate, 78 SCRA 43)  As a rule, it is intended to favor the accused particularly to shorten his term of imprisonment, depending upon his behavior and his physical, mental, and moral record as a prisoner to be determined by the Board of Indeterminate Sentence.

Indeterminate sentence is a sentence with a minimum term and a maximum benefit of a guilty person, who is not disqualified therefore, when the maximum penalty of imprisonment exceeds one year.  It applies to both violations of the RPC and special laws.


1. Revised Penal Code

The  court  shall  sentence the accused  to  an  indeterminate sentence  the  MAXIMUM TERM of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the Code, and the MINIMUM TERM which shall be  within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to that prescribed by the Code for the offense.

The maximum is the penalty imposed as provided by law, depending upon the attending circumstances.  The minimum is one degree next lower to the penalty prescribed for the offense.  The latter is determined without considering the attending circumstances to the penalty prescribed, and is left to the discretion of the court. (People v. Yco, 6545, July 27, 1954)

Example:  Homicide with one mitigating circumstance.  The maximum penalty prescribed by law is Reclusion temporal.  Since there is one  mitigating and no aggravating it will be in the minimum or reclusion temporal minimum period.  On the other hand, the minimum is one degree next lower to reclusion temporal without considering the mitigating circumstance and that will be prision mayor.  The range of prision mayor will depend upon the discretion of the court.  Therefore, the indeterminate penalty is a minimum of prision mayor (within the range fixed by the court) to a maximum of reclusion temporal minimum period.

2. Special Law

The court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the MAXIMUM  TERM of which shall not exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the MINIMUM TERM  prescribed  by  the same. (Q11, 1994 Bar)

Example:  Penalty is one year to 5 years.  Indeterminate sentence may be one year to 3 years or 3 years to 5 years.

This act shall not apply to persons:

1. Convicted of offenses punished with death or life imprisonment. (Q12, 1990 Bar)

2. Those convicted of treason, conspiracy or proposal to commit treason, misprision of treason, rebellion, sedition  or espionage, or piracy.

3. Those who are habitual delinquents.

Recidivists are entitled to an indeterminate sentence. (People v. Jaranilla, 28547, Feb. 22, 1974)

4. Those  who shall have escaped from confinement  or  evaded sentence.

A minor who escaped from confinement in the reformatory is entitled to the benefits of the law because confinement is not considered imprisonment. (People v. Perez, 44 OG 3884) (Q6, 1991 Bar)

5. Those who having been granted conditional pardon by the President shall have violated the terms thereof.

6. Those whose maximum period of imprisonment does not exceed one year. (Q8, 1999 Bar)

The application of which is based upon the penalty actually imposed in accordance with law. (People v. Hidalgo, 452, Jan. 22, 1962)

7. Those already serving final judgment upon the approval of this Act (December 5, 1933).

8. Those sentenced to the penalty of destierro or suspension. (Q12, 1999 Bar)

Whenever any prisoner who shall have served the minimum penalty  imposed on him, said Board of Indeterminate Sentence may, in its discretion, and in accordance with the rules  and regulations  adopted thereunder, authorize the release of  such prisoner on parole.  If during the period of surveillance, such parolee  shall  show himself to be a law-abiding  citizen  and shall not violate any of the laws of the Philippines, the Board may issue a final certificate of release in his favor.  Whenever any  prisoner released on parole shall, during the  period  of surveillance, violate any of the conditions of his parole, the Board may issue an order for his re-arrest and shall serve the remaining unexpired portion of the maximum sentence.

The application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is mandatory if the imprisonment would exceed one year.  It would be favorable to the accused. (People v. Judge German Lee, Jr., 86859, Sept. 12, 1984)


(PD 968, as amended, July 24, 1976)

Probation is a disposition, under which a defendant after conviction and sentence, is released subject to the conditions imposed by the Court and to the supervision of a probation officer.

The purpose of the law are:

1. Promote the correction and rehabilitation by providing the offender with individualized treatment.

2.  Provide an opportunity for the reformation of an offender which might be less probable if he were to serve a prison sentence.

3.  Prevent the commission of offenses.

The trial court may, after it shall have convicted and sentenced a defendant, and upon application by said defendant within the period for perfecting  an  appeal,  suspend  the execution   of  the  sentence  and  place  the  defendant   on probation.  No application for probation shall be entertained or granted if the defendant has perfected an appeal from  the judgment of conviction. (PD 1990)  In other words, the filing of the application for probation is considered as a waiver of the right of the accused to appeal. (Q9, 1992 Bar)

An application for probation shall be filed with the trial court.  The filing of the application shall be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal.  An order granting  or denying probation shall not be appealable.  However, an outright denial by the court is a nullity correctible by certiorari. (De Luna v. Hon. Medina, CA 78 OG 599)  An accused must fall within any one of the disqualification in order to be denied probation. (Balleta v. Leviste, 92 SCRA 719) (Q13, 1991 Bar)

The disqualified offenders are:

1. Sentenced to serve a maximum term of imprisonment of  more than 6 years.

A penalty of six years and one day is not entitled to the benefits of the law. (Q3, 1995 Bar; Q12, 1990 Bar)  In Francisco v. CA, 243 SCRA 384, the Supreme Court held that in case of one decision imposing multiple prison terms, the totality of the prison terms should not be taken into account for the purposes of determining the eligibility of the accused for the probation.  The law uses the word “maximum term”, and not total term.  It is enough that each of the prison term does not exceed 6 years.  The number of offenses is immaterial for as long as the penalties imposed, when taken individually and separately, are within the probationable period. (Q9, 1997 Bar)

2. Convicted of any crime against the national security (treason, espionage, piracy, etc.) or the public order (rebellion, sedition, direct assault, resistance, etc.).

3. Who have been previously convicted by final judgment of an offense punished  by imprisonment of not less than one month and  one  day and/or a fine of not less than P 200. (Q2, 1993 Bar)

4. Who have been once on probation.

5. Who are  already  serving  sentence at the time of the effectivity of the Decree.

Except  for  the reasons specified by the law, a trial court should not deny a petition for probation, especially when the probation officer has favorably recommended  the  grant  of probation.

Even if at the time of conviction the accused was qualified for probation but at the time of his application for probation, he is no longer qualified, he is not entitled to probation.  The qualification for probation must be determined as of the time the application is filed in court. (Bernardo v. Judge Balagot, 86561, Nov. 10, 1992) Supposing, an accused was convicted of a crime for which he was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years.  While affirming the judgment of conviction, the appellate court reduced the penalty to a maximum of 4 years and 4 months taking into consideration certain modifying circumstances. The accused now applies for probation.  In this case, the accused is not entitled to probation.  The law and jurisprudence are to the effect that appeal by the accused from a sentence of conviction forfeits his right to probation. (Bernardo v. Balagot, supra; Francisco v. CA; De la Cruz v. Judge Callejo) (Q3, 1995 Bar; Q17, 1994 Bar)

The probationer shall:

1. Present himself to the probation officer within 72 hours from receipt of probation order.

2. Report himself to the probation officer at least once a month during the period of probation.

The court, after considering the nature and seriousness of the violations of probation (if any), may issue a warrant for the arrest of the probationer.  He is then brought to the court immediately for hearing, which is summary.  If violation is established, the Court may revoke or continue the probation and modify the conditions thereof.  If revoked, the probationer shall be ordered to serve the sentence originally imposed and shall commit the probationer.  The order of the court is not appealable.

A final discharge of probation shall operate to restore to the probationer all civil rights lost or suspended as a result of the conviction and to full discharge of his liability for any fine imposed.  Under the Probation Law what is suspended is the execution of the sentence, while under PD 603, as amended, what is suspended is the pronouncement of the sentence upon request of the youthful offender.  The suspension of the sentence, however, has no bearing on the civil liability, which is separate and distinct from the criminal action. (Budlong v. Apalisok, 22 SCRA 935)

The provisions of the Probation Law should be liberally construed in order that the objective should be realized and achieved. (Santos v. Hon. Pano, 55130, Jan. 17, 1983)  In probation, the imposition of the sentence is suspended and likewise its accessory penalties are likewise suspended.  An order placing the defendant on probation is not a sentence but is rather in effect a suspension of the imposition of the sentence.  It is not a final judgment but is rather an interlocutory judgment in the nature of the a conditional order placing the convicted defendant under the supervision of the court for his reformation. (Baclayon v. Hon. Mutia, 129 SCRA 148)

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