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2012 Bar Reviewer in Criminal Law

2012 Bar Reviewer in Criminal Law

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Published by: Lawstudes on Jul 11, 2012
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I. Revised Penal Code / Special Laws, Presidential Decrees, and Executive OrdersBook 1
Fundamental Principles
a)Definition of Criminal Law
 A branch of municipal law which defines crimes, treats of their nature and providesfor their punishment.
i)Difference between
 Mala in Se and Mala Prohibita
 Malain se 
 Mala prohibita 
 Violations of the Revised Penal CodeViolations of special laws.
Test to determine if violation of special law is
malum prohibitum
malum in se:
Analyze the violation: Is it wrong because there is a law prohibiting it or punishing it as such? If youremove the law, will the act still be wrong?If the wording of the law punishing the crime uses the word “willfully”, then malice must be proven.Where malice is a factor, good faith is a defense.In violation of special law, the act constituting the crime is a prohibited act. Therefore
is not abasis of liability, unless the special law punishes an omission.When given a problem, take note if the crime is a violation of the Revised Penal Code or a special law.
which literally means, that the act is inherently evil or bad or
 per se
Not all violations of special laws are
mala prohibita
. While intentional felonies are always mala in se, itdoes not follow that prohibited acts done in violation of special laws are always
mala prohibita.
Even if the crime is punished under a speciallaw, if the act punished is one which is inherently wrong, the same is
malum in se
, and, therefore, good faith and the lack of criminal intent is a valid defense; unless it is theproduct of criminal negligence or culpa.Likewise when the special law requires that the punished act be committed knowingly and willfully,criminal intent is required to be proved before criminal liability may arise.When the act penalized is not inherently wrong, it is wrong only because a law punishes the same.
 b)Scope of Application and Characteristics of the Philippine CriminalLawGenerality
 The law is binding to all persons who live or sojourn in thePhilippines
 The law is binding to all crimes committed within theNational Territory ofthe Philippines
 The law does not have any retroactive effect.
Generalityof criminal law means that the criminal law of the country governs all persons within thecountry regardless of their race, belief, sex, or creed. However, it is subject to certain exceptions broughtabout by international agreement. Ambassadors, chiefs of states and other diplomatic officialsareimmune from the application of penal laws when they are in the country where they are assigned.Exceptions to general application of criminal law:a) principles of public international lawb) treaties or treaty stipulationsc)laws of preferential applicationConsuls are not diplomatic officers.This includes consul-general, vice-consul or any consul in a foreigncountry, who are therefore, not immune to the operation or applicationof the penal law of the countrywhere they are assigned. Consuls are subject to the penal laws of the country where they are assigned.It has no reference to territory.Whenever you are asked to explain this, it does not include territory. Itrefersto persons that may be governed by the penal law.
Exceptions to Territorial Application:Instances enumerated under Article 2 (see Reference)
Exception to Prospective Application:When new statuteis favorable to the accused who is not ahabitual delinquent.Applicable to speciallaws which provide more favorable conditions to the accused.
)Constitutional limitations on the power of Congress to enact penallaws
in the Bill of Rights
Equal protectionAny person shall not be denied the equalprotection of thelaws.
Due processNo person shall be deprived of life, liberty or propert without due process of law.
Non-imposition of cruel andunusual punishment orexcessive fines Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in thePhilippines.
Bill of attainderAlegislative act which inflicts punishment without judicialtrial.
 Ex post facto
lawOne which makes an action done before the passage of thelaw and which was innocent when done criminal andpunishes such action.
Only the legislative branch of the government can enact penal laws. While the President may define andpunish an act as a crime, such exercise of power is not executive but legislative as he derives such powerfrom the law-making body. It is in essence, an exercise of legislative power by the Chief Executive.
Art. III, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution
R.A. 9346

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