Alyssa Nezren P.

Mangata LAW – I Legal Writing – C LEGAL OPINION: IMBECILITY OR INSANITY as one of the EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCES (their distinctions, requisites, procedures, circumstances and conditions; and jurisprudence relating to it)

Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code states that, “Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability. – The following are exempt from criminal liability: 1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval...” The quoted-above provision establishes the distinction between imbecility and insanity, because while the imbecile is exempt in all cases from criminal liability, the insane is not so exempt if it can be shown that he acted during a lucid interval. According to the dictionary imbecile is a person marked by mental deficiency while an insane person is one who has an unsound mind or suffers from a mental disorder.1 Imbecility is having, while advanced in his age, has a mental development comparable to that of children between two and seven years of age. 2 On the other hand, insanity has been defined as "a manifestation in language or conduct of disease or defect of the brain, or a more or less permanently diseased or disordered condition of the mentality, functional or organic, and characterized by perversion, inhibition, or disordered function of the sensory or of the intellective faculties, or by impaired or disordered volition.”3 The exempting circumstance of insanity is not easily available to an accused as a successful defense.4 What should be the criterion for insanity or imbecility? In order that a person could be regarded as an imbecile within the meaning of article 12 of the Revised Penal Code so as to be exempt from criminal liability, he must be deprived completely of reason or discernment and freedom of the will at the time of committing the crime;5 whereas, insanity may be taken as an exempting circumstance when there is complete
1 2

Viada, Codigo Penal, 4th Ed., p. 92 th Reyes, Luis B., The Revised Penal Code, 7 Ed., 216 3 Sec. 1039, Revised Administrative Code 4 People of the Philippines vs. Honorio Tibon y Deiso, G.R. No. 188320, June 29, 2010. 5 People vs. Formigonez, 87 Phil. 658, 660

413 9 Decision of Supreme Court of Spain of April 20. 413 SCRA 132 14 People v.6 The provisions of article 12 of the Revised Penal Code are copied from and based on paragraph 1. it was held that the imbecility or insanity at the time of the commission of the act should absolutely deprive a person of intelligence or freedom of will. No. supra 5 8 Decision of Supreme Court of Spain of November 21. 13 People v. Florendo. G. 1980 People vs. 2004. the presumption. 328 SCRA 158. Consequently. Crim. the accused is deprived of reason. under Art. G. 86 Jur. 866-867 11 People v. 1891. 1999. citing People v. 1993.e. because mere abnormality of his mental faculties does not exclude imputability. Crim. he acts without the least discernment. is that every human is sane. unless that person has acted during a lucid interval. No. Catanyag. 147674-75. relate to the time immediately preceding or coetaneous with the commission of the offense with which he is charged.13 It is in the nature of confession and avoidance. that the accused be deprived of reason.9 Inasmuch as the defense is insanity. i. 136845. 1911. G. or that there be a total deprivation of freedom of the will. . 124453.. G. For this reason. Ambal. 2003. that is.R. and the conclusion of law must be that he is criminally liable. of the old Penal Code of Spain. An accused invoking insanity admits to have committed the crime but claims that he or she is not guilty because of insanity. Anyone who pleads the exempting circumstance of insanity bears the burden of proving it 12 with clear and convincing evidence. October 17. 52688. 226 SCRA 293. The testimony or proof of insanity must. No. the only question to be determined is. L-16381.7 The Supreme Court of Spain held that in order that this exempting circumstances may be taken into account.14 If there is no sufficient or satisfactory evidence that the accused was mentally incapacitated when he committed the crime. Opuran. March 15. 1961. that he was in right mind. June 21. October 8. that he acts without the least discernment. Yam-Id. 8 that there be a complete absence of the power to discern. article 8. G. 126116. Formigonez. 425 SCRA 654. it is necessary that there be a complete deprivation of intelligence in committing the act. September 10.R. G.R. that there be no responsibility for his own acts. 6 7 People vs. No. 2000. however. No. the conclusion of fact must be the same presumption established by law.R. 47 Jur.. 103974. that is. 308 SCRA 651 12 People v. December 30.10 Insanity is the exception rather than the rule in the human condition. March 17. 11 While Art. Pambid. whether or not the accused was insane at the time of the commission of the crime charge.deprivation of intelligence in committing the act. Nos. 94.R. the decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain interpreting and applying said provisions are pertinent and applicable. 800 of the Civil Code.R. 3 SCRA 863. 12(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides that an imbecile or insane person is exempt from criminal liability. 97 10 People vs Fausto..

He invoked it for the first time only after he had already testified on his defenses of alibi and denial. 29 May 2002. and we are constrained to affirm his conviction. No. 861. Valledor. the trial judge observed that. when he committed the grave felony 15 People v. G. that the burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. 126135. Not attempting. 16 Thus the accused. Mengote. citing People v. 382 SCRA 581. Opuran. 18 Phil. Thus. 64 Phil 87. supra 14 18 People v. Robiños. supra 22 . 62 24 People v. 29 May 2002. 382 SCRA 581 19 People v. G. At least. No. vs. 383 SCRA 653. 27 June 1990. In one case. and responsive to the questions propounded to him.21 In reference to the burden of proof of insanity in criminal cases. He is thus presumed sane. Ocfemia.R. 44 Phil. therefore. 129291.R.24 the court is convinced that the accused was a lunatic. No. 660-661. Amamangpang. 305. 344 SCRA 315 20 People v.. well-behaved. 34 Phil." has been adopted in a series of decisions by this court. 93 (1937) 17 People v. Bascos.R. Bonoan. that the law presumes every man to be sane.R. made apparently after the appellant realized the futility of his earlier defenses. No. 3 July 2002.22 The rather strict doctrine "that when a defendant in a criminal case interposes the defense of mental incapacity. Bascos. It has been held that the invocation of denial and alibi as defences indicates that the accused was in full control of his mental faculties. further elucidation of the authorities. Hontiveros Carmona [1910]. 138453. 15 His mental condition after that crucial period or during the trial is inconsequential for purposes of determining his criminal liability. The conflict in the decisions arises by reason of the fact that the courts differ in their opinion as to how much evidence is necessary to overthrow this original presumption of sanity. No. No. People vs. where the defense of insanity is interposed. Martinez [1916]. R. vs. Aquino. is a clear indication that insanity is a mere concoction20 or an afterthought. S. the shift in theory from denial and alibi to a plea of insanity. G. all the authorities are in harmony with reference to two fundamental propositions: First. G.19 Additionally. citing U. S. G. 25 March 1999. 291 SCRA 638 21 People v.R.. we find it more practicable to dispose cases based on the facts. 2 July 1998. 305 SCRA 380 22 People v. G. Domingo.R. 204 23 U.23 This will be construed to mean that the defense must prove that the accused was insane at the very moment the crime was committed. during the hearings he was attentive. 186 SCRA 851. the burden of establishing that fact rests upon him. and secondly. G. 18 He failed to raise insanity at the earliest opportunity. citing People v.It must be stressed that an inquiry into the mental state of an accused should relate to the period immediately before or at the precise moment of the commission of the act which is the subject of the inquiry. Basco. and as to what quantum of evidence is sufficient to enable the court to say that the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt has been sufficiently borne. failed to establish by convincing evidence his alleged insanity at the time he killed the victims. 16 People v. 130491. 138453. 87084. in People vs Opuran17 case. No. a conflict of authority exists. 25 October 2000. 108491.

The wife of the accused and his cousin testified that the accused had been more or less continuously out of his mind for many years. and should be confined in an insane asylum. based on the circumstances. 25 26 People v. Ocfemia. who. on the occasion thereof. The Supreme Court reiterated the established rule in People vs. and that this mental state has continued through many years. The clinical case report also shows that the accused. Bascos. found that the accused is a violent maniac and that from the information he had received from the neighbours of the accused. While the psychiatrist-witness described the mental illness of the accused as "organic mental disorder with psychosis" he admitted that a person suffering from insanity may know that what he is doing is wrong. which enabled him to exercise sound judgment and satisfactorily articulate the aforesaid matters. supra 15 28 People v. also observed that the mental illness of appellant came on and off. supra 19 . It is simply too convenient for the appellant to claim that he could not remember anything rather than face the consequences of his terrible deed."25 The total lack of motive of the accused to kill the victim bears out the assumption that the former was insane.26 In the case of People vs. does not necessarily indicate an aberrant mind but is more indicative of a concocted excuse to exculpate himself. An assistant district health officer.described in the record and that consequently he is exempt from criminal liability. The same witness also testified that there is no possibility of the accused having lucid intervals. It is. recalled having taken 120 cubic centimetres of cough syrup and consumed about 3 sticks of marijuana before the commission of the crime. therefore. by order of the judge. This admission substantially affirms his prior extrajudicial confession that he was under the influence of marijuana when he sexually abused the victim and. when interviewed upon his admission to the mental institution.27 the court found the evidence adduced too nebulous and conjectural to be convincing that the accused was insane immediately before or at the very moment the crime was committed. The presence of his reasoning faculties. Well-settled is the rule that an inquiry into the mental state of an accused should relate to the period immediately before or at the very moment the felony is committed. constituting a danger both for himself and for the community. supra 22 People v. the latter had been insane for some time. The official declaration of the physician in his capacity as acting district health officer was "that this accused. The physician expressed the opinion that the accused was probably insane when he killed the victim. is a violent maniac. beyond cavil that assuming the accused had some form of mental illness. it did not totally deprive him of intelligence. Aquino. Aquino. according to a physical examination and investigation. supra 12 27 People v. killed her. however. but he. Ocfemia. sufficiently discounts any intimation of insanity of the accused when he committed the dastardly felonies.28 when it ruled that the professed inability of the accused to recall events before and after the stabbing incident. examined the accused and conducted an investigation. Catanyag.

21 November 1991. Supra 16 36 People v. 204 SCRA 65 31 People v.32 Establishing the insanity of an accused often requires opinion testimony which may be given by a witness who is intimately acquainted with the accused. committing a crime while in a dream. as an epileptic. 7 Ed. since a person’s volition naturally reaches out only towards that which is represented as desirable by his intelligence. No. Epilepsy. 332 SCRA 99 34 People v. rather than on the test of volition." This is expected. has rational basis to conclude that the accused was insane based on his own perception. Rafanan. supra 5 People v. attended by convulsive motions of the muscles and loss of consciousness. No. The Revised Penal Code. whether that intelligence be diseased or healthy.. or that his property is being taken. While he. No. who is an epileptic. citing People v.35 Schizophrenics have lucid intervals during which they are capable of distinguishing right from wrong. Formigonez. 286 SCRA 44. 32 th Reyes. committing a crime while suffering from malignant malaria.R. such as a psychiatrist. G. G."30 We observed that our case law shows common reliance on the test of cognition. 113691. Madarang. 54135. and has failed to turn up any case where an accused is exempted on the sole ground that he was totally deprived of the freedom of the will. because of delusions that he is being interfered with sexually. The defense of lack of free will of the accused. Medina. it is the most common form of psychosis.33 Medical books describe schizophrenia as a chronic mental disorder characterized by inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality and often accompanied by hallucinations and delusions.G. Madarang.R.34 When a person is suffering from this form of psychosis. No. During the period of excitement. cannot be sustained.. 12 May 2000. Evidence on the alleged insanity must refer to the time preceding the act under prosecution or to the very moment of its execution. 132319. without an accompanying "complete deprivation of intelligence. Hence the importance of adducing proof to show that the accused was not in his lucid interval at the time he committed the offense. Jr. 100 SCRA 570. other cases may be covered by the term “insanity” such as Dementia praecox or Schizophrenia. or is qualified as an expert. the Formigones29 standard was analyzed into two distinguishable tests: (a) the test of cognition – whether there was a "complete deprivation of intelligence in committing the criminal act" and (b) the test of volition – whether there was a "total deprivation of freedom of the will.e. Formerly called dementia praecox. L-32978. Supra 33 .36 Another condition is epilepsy. which is a chronic nervous disease characterized by fits.R. i. Madarang. p. an element of voluntariness. such person has no control of his acts. occurring at intervals. No. was susceptible to nervous attacks that may momentarily deprive him of his mental faculties and lead him to unconsciously 29 30 People v. 6 February 1998.. 30 October 1980. Bonoan.R. Luis B.. G.31 Since the basis of insanity or imbecility is based on complete absence of intelligence.Thus. Supra 33 35 People v. Magallano. homicidal attack is common. 220-224 33 People v.

R. the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted. 1930. No. United States vs. March 31. Concepcion41 case. 49 Phil.” The ruling in the said case was reiterated in at least two cases. An expert psychiatricwitness in this case. 887 People v. malignant malaria. Gimena. or may be released without danger. 54 Phil 775 42 37 Phil. Lacena. 69 Phil. suddenly got up. one who. 604 40 People v. “When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito). wounded her and also attacked other persons. 255 39 People v.attempt to take his own life and the lives of others. which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court. who tried to stop him. and immediately after the aggression. L-33281. Guendia42 and People vs. affects the nervous system and causes among others such complication as acute melancholia and insanity at times. when it concluded with this order: "The defendant 37 38 People v. it has not been shown that he was under the influence of an epileptic fit before.40 As for the procedure when the imbecile or the insane committed a felony. however. The doctor stated that considering the circumstances of the case. but also motives for not committing said acts. “When in the opinion of the Director of Health any patient in any Government hospital or other place for the insane is temporarily or permanently cured.” In Chin Ah Foo vs. 337. got a bolo. and upon meeting his wife. 55 Phil. has no power to permit the insane person to leave the asylum without first obtaining the opinion of the Director of Health that he may be released without danger. while sleeping. thus a person who commits a crime suffering from it. 39 Another illness. 350 41 G. whom she loved so dearly. and shall notify the Judge of the Court of First Instance who ordered the commitment. under the influence of hallucination and not in his right mind. Taneo. Bascos43.38 When the acts of the person afflicted are automatic. the defendant acted while in a dream. paragraph 2 of the same provision states that. pursuant to Section 1048 of the Administrative Code stating that. he may discharge such patient. Mancao and Aguilar. in case the patient is confined by order of the court. 58 Phil. the defendant here is not criminally liable for lack of motives to voluntarily commit the acts complained of. nevertheless.37 Taking the third condition that falls into the term “insanity”. it was held that the court. [1917] 43 Supra 22 . it is embraced in the plea of insanity and must clearly be proven. is also of the same opinion.. during. is not criminally liable for lack of intelligence as explained in the preceding conditions.

and shall not be permitted to depart therefrom without the prior approval of the Court of First Instance of the Province of Iloilo (Pangasinan)." .shall be kept in confinement in the San Lazaro Hospital or such other hospital for the insane as the Director of Health may direct.

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