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Criminal Law Cases

Criminal Law Cases

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03/04/2013

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EN BANCG.R. No. L-5887 December 16, 1910THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,vs.LOOK CHAW (alias LUK CHIU), defendant-appellant.Thos. D. Aitken for appellant.Attorney-General Villamor for appellee.ARELLANO, C. J.:
The first complaint filed against the defendant, in the Court of FirstInstance of Cebu, stated that he "carried, kept, possessed and hadin his possession and control, 96 kilogrammes of opium," and that"he had been surprised in the act of selling 1,000 pesos worthprepared opium."The defense presented a demurrer based on two grounds, thesecond of which was the more than one crime was charged in thecomplaint. The demurrer was sustained, as the court found thatthe complaint contained two charges, one, for the unlawfulpossession of opium, and the other, for the unlawful sale of opium,and, consequence of that ruling, it ordered that the fiscal shouldseparated one charge from the other and file a complaint for eachviolation; this, the fiscal did, and this cause concerns only theunlawful possession of opium. It is registered as No. 375, in theCourt of First Instance of Cebu, and as No. 5887 on the generaldocket of this court.The facts of the case are contained in the following finding of thetrial court:The evidence, it says, shows that between 11 and 12 o'clock a. m.on the present month (stated as August 19, 1909), severalpersons, among them Messrs. Jacks and Milliron, chief of thedepartment of the port of Cebu and internal-revenue agent of Cebu, respectively, went abroad the steamship Erroll to inspect andsearch its cargo, and found, first in a cabin near the saloon, onesack (Exhibit A) and afterwards in the hold, another sack (ExhibitB). The sack referred to as Exhibit A contained 49 cans of opium,and the other, Exhibit B, the larger sack, also contained severalcans of the same substance. The hold, in which the sack mentionedin Exhibit B was found, was under the defendant's control, whomoreover, freely and of his own will and accord admitted that thissack, as well as the other referred to in Exhibit B and found in thecabin, belonged to him. The said defendant also stated, freely andvoluntarily, that he had bought these sacks of opium, in Hongkongwith the intention of selling them as contraband in Mexico or VeraCruz, and that, as his hold had already been searched severaltimes for opium, he ordered two other Chinamen to keep the sack.Exhibit A.It is to be taken into account that the two sacks of opium,designated as Exhibits A and B, properly constitute the corpusdelicti. Moreover, another lot of four cans of opium, marked, asExhibit C, was the subject matter of investigation at the trial, andwith respect to which the chief of the department of the port of Cebu testified that they were found in the part of the ship wherethe firemen habitually sleep, and that they were delivered to thefirst officer of the ship to be returned to the said firemen after thevessel should have left the Philippines, because the firemen andcrew of foreign vessels, pursuant to the instructions he had fromthe Manila custom-house, were permitted to retain certain amountsof opium, always provided it should not be taken shore.And, finally, another can of opium, marked "Exhibit D," is alsocorpus delicti and important as evidence in this cause. With regardto this the internal-revenue agent testified as follows:itc-alf FISCAL. What is it?WITNESS. It is a can opium which was bought from the defendantby a secret-service agent and taken to the office of the governor toprove that the accused had opium in his possession to sell.On motion by the defense, the court ruled that this answer mightbe stricken out "because it refers to a sale." But, with respect tothis answer, the chief of the department of customs had alreadygiven this testimony, to wit:FISCAL. Who asked you to search the vessel?WITNESS. The internal-revenue agent came to my office and saidthat a party brought him a sample of opium and that the same
 
party knew that there was more opium on board the steamer, andthe agent asked that the vessel be searched.The defense moved that this testimony be rejected, on the groundof its being hearsay evidence, and the court only ordered that thepart thereof "that there was more opium, on board the vessel" bestricken out.The defense, to abbreviate proceedings, admitted that thereceptacles mentioned as Exhibits A, B, and C, contained opiumand were found on board the steamship Erroll, a vessel of Englishnationality, and that it was true that the defendant stated thatthese sacks of opium were his and that he had them in hispossession.According to the testimony of the internal-revenue agent, thedefendant stated to him, in the presence of the provincial fiscal, of a Chinese interpreter (who afterwards was not needed, becausethe defendant spoke English), the warden of the jail, and fourguards, that the opium seized in the vessel had been bought byhim in Hongkong, at three pesos for each round can and five pesosfor each one of the others, for the purpose of selling it, ascontraband, in Mexico and Puerto de Vera Cruz; that on the 15ththe vessel arrived at Cebu, and on the same day he sold opium;that he had tried to sell opium for P16 a can; that he had acontract to sell an amount of the value of about P500; that theopium found in the room of the other two Chinamen prosecuted inanother cause, was his, and that he had left it in their stateroom toavoid its being found in his room, which had already been searchedmany times; and that, according to the defendant, the contents of the large sack was 80 cans of opium, and of the small one, 49, andthe total number, 129.It was established that the steamship Erroll was of Englishnationality, that it came from Hongkong, and that it was bound forMexico, via the call ports of Manila and Cebu.The defense moved for a dismissal of the case, on the grounds thatthe court had no jurisdiction to try the same and the factsconcerned therein did not constitute a crime. The fiscal, at theconclusion of his argument, asked that the maximum penalty of the law be imposed upon the defendant, in view of theconsiderable amount of opium seized. The court ruled that it didnot lack jurisdiction, inasmuch as the crime had been committedwithin its district, on the wharf of Cebu.The court sentenced the defendant to five years' imprisonment, topay a fine of P10,000, with additional subsidiary imprisonment incase of insolvency, though not to exceed one third of the principalpenalty, and to the payment of the costs. It further ordered theconfiscation, in favor of the Insular Government, of the exhibitspresented in the case, and that, in the event of an appeal beingtaken or a bond given, or when the sentenced should have beenserved, the defendant be not released from custody, but turnedover to the customs authorities for the purpose of the fulfillment of the existing laws on immigration.From this judgment, the defendant appealed to thiscourt.lawphi1.netThe appeal having been heard, together with the allegations madetherein by the parties, it is found: That, although the merepossession of a thing of prohibited use in these Islands, aboard aforeign vessel in transit, in any of their ports, does not, as ageneral rule, constitute a crime triable by the courts of thiscountry, on account of such vessel being considered as anextension of its own nationality, the same rule does not apply whenthe article, whose use is prohibited within the Philippine Islands, inthe present case a can of opium, is landed from the vessel uponPhilippine soil, thus committing an open violation of the laws of theland, with respect to which, as it is a violation of the penal law inforce at the place of the commission of the crime, only the courtestablished in that said place itself had competent jurisdiction, inthe absence of an agreement under an international treaty.It is also found: That, even admitting that the quantity of the drugseized, the subject matter of the present case, was considerable, itdoes not appear that, on such account, the two penalties fixed bythe law on the subject, should be imposed in the maximum degree.Therefore, reducing the imprisonment and the fine imposed to sixmonths and P1,000, respectively, we affirm in all other respectsthe judgment appealed from, with the costs of this instance againstthe appellant. So ordered.
Torres, Mapa, Johnson, Carson, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur.
 
EN BANCG.R. No. L-18924 October 19, 1922THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellant,vs.WONG CHENG (alias WONG CHUN), defendant-appellee.
 Attorney-General Villa-Real for appellant.Eduardo Gutierrez Repide for appellee.
 ROMUALDEZ,
 J.:
 In this appeal the Attorney-General urges the revocation of the order of the Court of First Instance of Manila, sustaining thedemurrer presented by the defendant to the information thatinitiated this case and in which the appellee is accused of havingillegally smoked opium, aboard the merchant vessel
Changsa
of English nationality while said vessel was anchored in Manila Baytwo and a half miles from the shores of the city.The demurrer alleged lack of jurisdiction on the part of thelower court, which so held and dismissed the case.The question that presents itself for our consideration iswhether such ruling is erroneous or not; and it will or will not beerroneous according as said court has or has no jurisdiction oversaid offense.The point at issue is whether the courts of the Philippineshave jurisdiction over crime, like the one herein involved,committed aboard merchant vessels anchored in our jurisdictionwaters.
1awph!l.net 
 There are two fundamental rules on this particular matter inconnection with International Law; to wit, the French rule,according to which crimes committed aboard a foreign merchantvessels should not be prosecuted in the courts of the countrywithin whose territorial jurisdiction they were committed, unlesstheir commission affects the peace and security of the territory;and the English rule, based on the territorial principle and followedin the United States, according to which, crimes perpetrated undersuch circumstances are in general triable in the courts of thecountry within territory they were committed. Of this two rules, itis the last one that obtains in this jurisdiction, because at presentthe theories and jurisprudence prevailing in the United States onthis matter are authority in the Philippines which is now a territoryof the United States.In the cases of 
The Schooner Exchange vs. M'Faddon and Others
(7 Cranch [U. S.], 116), Chief Justice Marshall said:. . . When merchant vessels enter for the purposes of trade, it would be obviously inconvenient and dangerous tosociety, and would subject the laws to continual infraction,and the government to degradation, if such individuals ormerchants did not owe temporary and local allegiance, andwere not amenable to the jurisdiction of the country. . . .In United States
vs.
Bull (15 Phil., 7), this court held:. . . No court of the Philippine Islands had jurisdictionover an offense or crime committed on the high seas orwithin the territorial waters of any other country, but whenshe came within three miles of a line drawn from theheadlands, which embrace the entrance to Manila Bay, shewas within territorial waters, and a new set of principlesbecame applicable. (Wheaton, International Law [Dana ed.],p. 255, note 105; Bonfils, Le Droit Int., secs. 490
et seq
.;Latour, La Mer Ter., ch. 1.) The ship and her crew werethen subject to the jurisdiction of the territorial sovereignsubject to such limitations as have been conceded by thatsovereignty through the proper political agency. . . .It is true that in certain cases the comity of nations isobserved, as in
Mali and Wildenhus vs. Keeper of the Common Jail 
(120 U.., 1), wherein it was said that:. . . The principle which governs the whole matter isthis: Disorder which disturb only the peace of the ship orthose on board are to be dealt with exclusively by thesovereignty of the home of the ship, but those which disturbthe public peace may be suppressed, and, if need be, theoffenders punished by the proper authorities of the local jurisdiction. It may not be easy at all times to determine

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