I. Revised Penal Code / Special Laws, Presidential Decrees, and Executive OrdersBook 1
a)Definition of Criminal Law
A branch of municipal law which defines crimes, treats of their nature and providesfor their punishment.
Mala in Se and Mala Prohibita
Violations of the Revised Penal CodeViolations of special laws.
Test to determine if violation of special law is
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
Not all violations of special laws are
. While intentional felonies are always mala in se, itdoes not follow that prohibited acts done in violation of special laws are always
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.