directly or over acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce thefelony by reason of some cause or accident other than this own spontaneous desistance.Conspiracyexists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commissionof a felony and decide to commit it. There is proposal when the person who has decided tocommit a felony proposes its execution to some other person or persons. Conspiracy and proposal to commit a felony are generally not punishable, except for conspiracy and proposal tocommit treason, coup d’etat, and rebellion.
Circumstances that Affect Criminal Liability
The presence of certain circumstances have the effect of removing, mitigating or aggravatingcriminal liability of persons. Persons who commit crimes when justifying circumstances are present do not incur criminal or civil liability. Acting in self-defense is one of these justifyingcircumstances.The presence of exempting circumstances on the other hand will exempt the perpetrator fromcriminal liability but not from civil liability. Some of these exempting circumstances areimbecility or youth. On the other hand, the presence of one or more mitigating circumstanceswhen a crime is committed, can serve to reduce the penalty imposed. An example is voluntarysurrender.Lastly, the presence of aggravating circumstances will increase the penalty imposed under thecrime, upon conviction. Some examples are contempt or insult to public authority.
Participation in Crimes
Under the Revised Penal Code, when more than one person participated in the commission of thecrime, the law looks into their participation because in punishing offenders, the Revised PenalCode classifies them as principals, accomplices, or accessories. A persons can be liable as a
principal for (a) taking a direct part in the execution of the felony, (b) directly forcing or inducing others to commit it, or (c) cooperate in the commission of the offense by another actwithout which it would not have been accomplished. Accomplices are persons who, while notacting as a principal, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts.Lastly, accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime, andwithout having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent toits commission by: (a) profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profitby the effects of thecrime, (b) concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, inorder to prevent its discovery, or (c) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principals of the crime.Principals are punished more severely than accomplices, who are punished more severely thanaccessories. However, when there is conspiracy, there will no longer be a distinction as towhether a person acted as a principal, accomplice or accessory, because when there isconspiracy, the criminal liability of all will be the same, because the act of one is the act of all.
Apart from the crimes penalized in the Revised Penal Code, several other pieces of criminallegislation have been passed, penalizing acts such as illegal possession and trafficking of dangerousdrugs,money laundering, and illegal possession of firearms. These laws are called
“Special Penal Laws” and they form part of Philippine Criminal Laws. There are certain
differences between crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws.