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CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING CRIMINAL LIABILITY

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In the Philippines, penal laws subscribe to the classical theory hence there is a
predetermined penalty for each crime. It is the office of modifying circumstances to
increase or decrease the penalty in accordance with the presence or absence of
circumstances showing the moral status of the offender.
The circumstances which affect or modify criminal liability are:
a. Justifying Article 11
b. Exempting Article 12
c. Mitigating Articles 13 and 15
d. Aggravating Articles 14 and 15
e. Absolutory exempting circumstances outside Article 12
f. Extenuating mitigating circumstances not found in Article 13, such as
concealment of dishonor in abortion and abandonment of wife by the husband
in adultery.
Absolutory circumstances:
a. Instigation due to public policy;
b. Article 6 (3) spontaneous desistance in the attempted stage unless the overt
act committed constitutes another crime;
c. Article 7 attempted or frustrated light felonies except those against persons or
property;
d. Article 16 accessories in light felonies;
e. Article 20 accessories relatives other than profiting in the crime;
f. Article 247 injuries except serious physical injuries;
g. Article 332 certain relatives in theft, estafa and malicious mischief;
h. Somnambulism due to lack of intelligence;
i. Mistake of fact due to lack of intent;
j. Total repeal of penal law, which decriminalizes the act.
Entrapment is the employment of ways and means for the purpose of trapping or
capturing a lawbreaker; the idea to commit the crime originates from the accused. In
inducement or instigation the criminal intent originates in the mind of the instigator
and the accused is lured into the commission of the offense charged in order to
prosecute him.
A buy-bust is a form of entrapment that in recent years has been accepted as a valid
means of arresting violators of the Dangerous Drugs Law. It is commonly employed by
police officers as an effective way of apprehending law offenders in the act of committing
a crime.
In entrapment, it is necessary that a buy-bust operation occurred, otherwise, it
would be considered in case of doubt as instigation. Instigation is an absolutory cause
akin to an exempting circumstance.
Even without the money to buy the marijuana so long as the police officer went
through the motion as a buyer and his offer was accepted by the appellant and the
marijuana delivered to police officer, the crime was consummated but the delivery of
goods.
Instigation and frame-up cannot be both present in a case for they are incompatible. In
instigation, the crime is actually performed by the accused except that the intent
originates from the mind of the inducers. In frame-up, however, the offense is not
committed by the accused. Precisely, the accused is only framed or set up in a situation
leading to a false accusation against him.
An allegation of frame-up and extortion by police officers is a common and
standard defense in most dangerous drug cases. It is viewed by the court with disfavor,
for it can be easily concocted. To substantiate such defense, including instigation, the
evidence must be clear and convincing because of the presumption that public officers
acted in the regular performance of their official duties.
Distinctions:
Entrapment
a.
The mens rea originated from the
accused who was merely trapped by
the peace officer in flagrante delicto
b.
This is not absolutory as to the
offender since he authored the evil
idea
c.
Consistent with public policy
d.
Trap for the unwary criminal
e.
The peace officer is without criminal
liability for his acts are in accordance
with law

Instigation
a.
The evil idea originates from the peace
officer who induced the accused to
commit the act
b.
Absolutory by reason of public policy
c.
d.
e.

Contrary to public policy


Trap for unwary innocent
The peace officer is a principal by
inducement

ARTICLE 11 Justifying Circumstances


1. Justifying circumstances are those where the acts of the actor are in accordance with law
and hence he incurs no criminal liability. Since there is no crime, there is no criminal and
hence no civil liability.
2. Thus, Article 101 states, in cases falling with subdivision 4 of Article 11, the persons for
whose benefit the harm has been prevented shall be civilly liable in proportion to the
benefit which they may have received. The benefit is not on the actor but on those who
benefited from the act.
3. The justifying circumstances are: (DsrsNDS)
a. Defense of self, of relatives, and of strangers;
b. State of necessity;
c. Fulfillment of duty; and
d. Obedience to superior order.
4. Self-defense includes defense of life, chastity property and honor of the accused who
must prove with clear and convincing evidence the following elements (URL):
a. Unlawful aggression;
b. Reasonably necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and
c. Lack of sufficient provocation of the part of the person defending himself
5. The effect of invoking self-defense is to place the burden in the accused to prove to the
satisfaction of the court the fact of legitimate defense because thereby he admits the
commission of the act complained.
6. Unlawful aggression is the primordial requisite which must AT ALL TIMES BE
PRESENT. When unlawful aggression is absent, there is no self-defense whether
complete or incomplete.
7. It must be actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, and not merely
a threatening or intimidating attitude. The accused must present proof of positively
strong act of aggression. Unlawful aggression must be such as to put in real peril the life
or personal safety of the person defending himself or of others being defended and not
an imagined threat.
8. Unlawful aggression must be real or at least imminent. Real aggression means an attack
with physical force or with a weapon such as to cause injury or danger to life or personal
safety. Aggression is imminent if an attack is impending or at the point of happening. It
must be offensive and positively strong.
9. That petitioner sustained injuries does not signify that he was a victim of unlawful
aggression.
10. When the aggression no longer exists, such as when the aggressor ran away after the
attack or when the defender was able to wrest the weapon from the aggressor, there is
no need for self-defense. Defender must stop for when the aggression ceases and he still
continued to attack, he becomes the aggressor.
11. The presence of large number of wounds inflicted on the victim and the severity thereof
disprove self-defense, so do they belie the claim of incomplete defense of ones relative
and indicate not the desire to defend ones relative but a determined effort to kill.
12. Reasonable necessity of the means employed depends upon the circumstances
surrounding the aggression, the state of mind of the aggressor and the available weapon
at the defenders disposal.
13. There is no reasonable necessity of the means of defense when the unlawful aggression
on the part of the victim has ceased because there is no more need for the offender to
defend himself.
14. It does not imply commensurability between the means of the attack and defense the
aw requires a rational equivalence which is determined by the emergency, the imminent
danger to which the person attacked is exposed, and the instinct, more than the reason,
that moves or impels the defense. The proportionateness thereof does not depend upon
the harm done, but rests upon the imminent danger of such injury.
15. The presence of a large number of wounds inflicted on the victim clearly indicates a
determined effort on the part of the accused to kill his prey and belies the
reasonableness of the means adopted to prevent or repel an unlawful act of an
aggressor.
16. Stand ground when in the right is the rule which applies when the aggressor is armed
with a weapon and is especially more liberal if the person attacked is a peace officer in
the performance of his duty. This rule has superseded the principle of retreat to the
wall which makes it a duty of a person assailed to retreat as far as he can before he
meets the assault with force.
17. In defense of ones chastity, there must be imminent or immediate danger of rape to
justify killing. If it were only acts of lasciviousness, killing is an unreasonable means.

18. Slander may be necessary means to repel slander. But it must not be more than needed
to defend oneself from the defamatory remarks.
19. In defense of property, killing is not justified. There must in addition, be the necessity to
save another life. If the aggression is on property, even if there was no attack on the
defender or owner or possessor, defense is proper but not to the extent of killing the
aggressor, otherwise the means used to repel or prevent the aggression will not be
reasonable.
20. For defense of relatives the third requisite becomes: in case the provocation was given
by the person attacked, the person defending had no part therein.
21. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself shows that
there may have been provocation but it should not be sufficient and it must not
immediately precede the act. It is not enough that the provocative act be unreasonable
or annoying.
As an element of self defense, there must be lack of sufficient provocation on the
part of the defender; as a mitigating circumstance, there must be presence thereof on the
part of the offended.
22. For defense of strangers, the third requisite is that the person defending is not induced
by revenge, resentment or other evil motives.
23. Beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity is defense of strangers and the third element
in defense of relatives will be replaced.
24. The presence or lack of all or some of the requisites for the defense have the following
effects:
a. All requisites are present justifying circumstance; (Article 11)
b. Two requisites are present, unlawful aggression plus another privileged
mitigating circumstance; (Article 69)
c. One requisite present which must be unlawful aggression ordinary mitigating
circumstance (Article 13, no. 1)
25. The elements of state of necessity are:
a. The evil sought to be avoided actually exists;
b. The injury feared be greater than that done to avoid it; and
c. There is no other practical and less harmful means of preventing it.
The state of necessity must not be caused by the negligence or violation of the
law of the actor otherwise this benefit cannot be invoked.
Under Article 101, the civil liability shall be borne not by the actor but the ones
benefited by the avoidance of the evil.
26. The elements of fulfillment of duty or exercise of right or office are:
a. The offender acted in the performance of a duty or the lawful exercise of a right
or office;
b. The injury caused or the offense committed is the necessary consequence of the
due performance of such right or office.
Under the doctrine of self-help in Article 429 of the Civil Code, the law justifies
the act of the owner or lawful possessor of a thing in using force necessary to protect his
proprietary or possessory rights. He must however exercise this right at the very
moment that he is being deprived of his property. When possession has already been
lost, he must resort to judicial process in reclaiming his property otherwise, he could be
liable for coercion.
27. Appellant was not in the performance of his duties at the time of the shooting for the
reason that the girls he was attempting to arrest were not committing any act of
prostitution in his presence. If at all, the only person he was authorized to arrest during
the time was R, who offered him a service of a prostitute, for acts of vagrancy. Even
then, the fatal injuries that the appellant cause the victim were not a necessary
consequence of the performance of his duty as a police officer. His duty to arrest the
female suspects did not include any right to shoot the victim to death.
28. The elements of obedience to superior order are:
a. An order has been issued by a superior;
b. The order is for a legal purpose;
c. The means used to carry out such order is lawful.
Even if the order is illegal, if it is apparently legal, and the subordinate is not
aware of its illegality, the subordinate is not liable.

ARTICLE 12 Exempting Circumstances


1. The exempting circumstances are:
a. Imbecility/insanity
b. Minority
c. Accident
d. Compulsion of irresistible force
e. Impulse of uncontrollable fear
f. Insuperable or lawful cause
2. Distinctions between justifying and exempting circumstances:
Justifying
a.
The act is legal
b.
There is no crime, hence no criminal
c.
Since there is no crime there is no
criminal and civil liabilities
d.

3.

The emphasis of the law is on the fact

Exempting
a.
The act is criminal
b.
There is a crime, hence a criminal
c.
There is a crime and civil liability but
the law exempts the actor from
criminal liabilities
d.
The emphasis of the law is on the actor

Insanity under Section 1039 of the Revised Administrative Code is a manifestation in


language or conduct of 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.
4. There must be a complete deprivation of intelligence in committing the act, that is, the
accused is deprived of reason, he acts without the least discernment because there is
complete absence of power to discern, or there is a total deprivation of freedom of the
will. Mere abnormality of the mental faculties will not exclude imputability.
5. When insanity is interposed as a defense or a ground of a motion to quash, the burden
rests upon the accused to establish that fact, for the law presumes every man to be sane.
Hence, in the absence of sufficient evidence to prove insanity, the legal presumption of
ones sanity stands. The law presumes all acts to be voluntary. Not every aberration of
the mind or exhibition of mental deficiency is insanity.
6. When insanity is alleged, the evidence on this point must refer to the time preceding the
act or to the very moment of its execution. If the evidence pointed to the insanity
subsequent to the commission of the crime, the accused cannot be acquitted. He is
presumed to be sane when he committed it.
7. Insanity is a defense in the nature of the confession and avoidance, and as such must be
proved beyond reasonable doubt.
8. Article 79 refers to insanity occurring after the commission of the crime, whereas,
insanity in Article 12 refers to insanity at the very moment the crime is being committed.
When the convict shall become insane or imbecile after final sentence has been
pronounced, the execution of said sentence shall be suspended only with regard to the
personal penalty, the provisions of the second paragraph of circumstance number 1 of
Article 12 being observed in the corresponding cases. If at any time the convict shall
recover hi reason, his sentence shall be executed, unless the penalty shall have
prescribed in accordance with the provisions of this Code.
9. Where the imbecile or insane person has committed a felony, the court shall order his
confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted,
which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining permission of the same
court.
10. Care must be taken to distinguish between lack of reason (insanity) and failure to use
reason or good judgment due to extreme anger (passion). Mere mental depravity or
moral insanity which results not from any disease of mind but from a perverted
condition of the moral system where the person is mentally sane, does not exempt one
from the responsibility for crimes committed under its influence. Thus, before the
defense of insanity may be accepted, there must be a complete deprivation of
intelligence not only of the will in committing the criminal act. In Rafanan, the fact
that appellant threatened the victim with death in case she reported her ravishment,
indicated that he was aware of the reprehensible moral depravity of that assault and that
he was not deprived of intelligence. In Dungo, that the accused knew the nature of what
he had done negated his claim that he was insane when he fatally stabbed the victim. In
Aquino, appellant who consumed cough syrup and 3 marijuana sticks before raping his
victim and killing her had some form of mental illness which did not deprive him of
intelligence.
11. The two tests are: (a) Cognition test or complete deprivation of intelligence in
committing the criminal act, and (b) Volition test or a total deprivation of the freedom of
the will. The volition test does not suffice to exempt from liability; it must be
accompanied by the cognition test which alone is sufficient to exempt from liability.
12. Where the accused failed to show complete impairment or loss of intelligence it is at
most a mitigating circumstance under Article 13(9): such illness of the offender as

would diminish the exercise of the will-power of the offender without however
depriving him of the consciousness of his acts.
13. Schizophrenia has been described as a chronic mental disorder characterized by inability
to distinguish between fantasy and reality and often accompanied by hallucinations and
delusions. Formerly called dementia praecox, it is said to be the most common form of
psychosis and usually develops between the ages of 13 and 30.
In cases where schizophrenia was interposed, it has mostly been rejected for if
there was impairment of the mental faculties, such impairment was not so complete as
to deprive that accused of intelligence or the consciousness of his acts. Schizophrenic
reaction, although not exempting because it does not completely deprive offender of the
consciousness of his acts, may be considered as mitigating circumstance under Article
13(9).
14. Imbecility, like insanity, is a defense which pertains to the mental condition of a person.
The same standards in respect of both insanity and imbecility obtain.
R.A. 9344 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006
15. The youthful offender is a child in conflict with the law who is alleged as, accused of, or adjudged as, having
committed a offense under Philippine laws. Before becoming such, he may have been a child at risk who is
vulnerable to and at the risk of committing criminal offenses because of personal, family and social
circumstances, such as sexual, physical and other kinds of abuses, abandonment, dysfunctional or broken
family, etc.
16. A child of 15 years or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.
However, he shall be subjected to an intervention program pursuant to Section 20 of R.A. 9344.
17. A child over 15 years or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal
liability and be subjected to intervention program unless he acted with discernment in which case he shall be
subjected to diversion program under Section 23 of the law.
18. R.A. 9344 has modified the provision of Article 68 of the Revised Penal Code for the youth 15 or under is no
longer entitled to 2 degrees reduction of penalty but has become absolutely exempt from criminal liability.
19. Aside from exemption from criminal responsibility due to minority, children under 18 are exempt from the
following offenses:
a.
Status offenses or any conduct not considered an offense and not penalized if committed by an adult
shall not be considered an offense and shall not be punished if committed by a child. Example:
drinking liquor, violation of curfew hours, etc.
b. Vagrancy and prostitution under Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code
c.
Mendicancy under P.D. 1563
d. Snuffing rugby under P.D. 1619
The child however shall undergo appropriate counseling and treatment program.
20. Both Article 47 and R.A. 9344 exempt all minors from the death penalty. These are superfluous provisions as
minority is privileged mitigating circumstance requiring the reduction of the penalty on the minor to at least 1
degree lower.
21. Discernment is not relevant but to intelligence. While there may be discernment, it does not necessarily mean
that the minor intended the crime. If intent is not proved, the minor will be acquitted from the offense charged.
22. The allegation that the minor committed the imputed acts with intent to kill has been held as sufficient
compliance to the requirement of allegation in the information that the child had acted with discernment.

23. For accident to be appreciated, the following must concur:


a. The accused was performing a lawful act with due care;
b. The injury is caused by mere accident; and
c. There was no fault or intent of causing the injury.
This is because when the act is with fault, it will fall under culpa; when with
intent it will become an intentional felony. The accident must not be foreseeable or there
will be fault or criminal negligence.
24. The basis of exemption from criminal liability for accident is the lack of criminal intent.
For an accident to become an exempting circumstance, the act has to be lawful. The act
of firing a shotgun at another is not a lawful act.
25. Having claimed that the shooting was accidental, petitioner must prove the same by
clear and convincing evidence. However, the burden of proving the commission of the
crime remained with the prosecution.
26. An accident is an occurrence that happens outside the sway of our will, and although it
comes about through some act of our will, lies beyond the bunds of humanly foreseeable
consequences. It connotes the absence of criminal intent. Here, appellant got his
shotgun and returned to the kitchen to shoot his son, who had intervened in his quarrel
with his wife. A shotgun would not have fired off without first being cocked.
Undoubtedly, appellant cocked the shotgun before discharging it, showing a clear intent
to fire it at someone.
27. Negligence is the omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those
considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do, or the
doing of something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do.
Drivers of vehicle who bump the rear of another vehicle are presumed to be the
cause of the accident, unless contradicted by other evidence. The rationale behind this

presumption is tht the driver of the rear vehicle has full control of the situation as he is
in a position to observe the vehicle in front of him. Consequently, the responsibility to
avoid the collision with the front vehicle lies with the driver of the rear vehicle. His is the
last chance of avoiding the accident.
In case of accident, the actor must not abandon the victim or else he will be liable for
abandonment in Article 275(2).
28. Irresistible force has the following elements:
a. The force must be physical, must come from an outside source, and the accused
must act only without a will but also against his will.
b. The actor must be reduced to a mere instrument, such that the element of
freedom is wanting.
c. The duress, force, fear, or intimidation must be present, imminent and
impending and of such a nature as to induce a well-grounded fear of death or
serious bodily injury id the act is not done.
29. The elements of impulse of uncontrollable fear are:
a. Threat which caused the fear of an evil greater than or at least equal to that
which the accused was required to commit;
b. It promised an evil of such gravity and imminence that the ordinary man would
have succumbed to it.
Impulse of uncontrollable fear and irresistible force are the same. They are both
grounded on duress or complete absence of freedom of action or of the will of the actor
who has been reduced to a mere instrument of the offender.
30. Insuperable cause is an exempting circumstance which applies to felonies by omission.
The law imposes a duty on the offender to perform an act but his failure to do so is due
to a lawful or insuperable cause. For instance, Article 125 provides for the number of
hours when a person arrested must be delivered to the judicial authorities. Failure of the
law enforcers to do so on valid grounds such as request of the arrestee for preliminary
investigation will result to waiver of the provision of Article 125.
R.A. 9262 Anti-violence against Women and their Children
31. Violence against women and their children covers any act or series of acts against a
persons wife, former wife, or one with whom he has or had sexual or dating
relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child which result or is
likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse
including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary
deprivation of liberty.
32. Battery is inflicting physical harm upon the woman or her child resulting to the
physical or emotional distress.
33. Stalking is the intentional act by one who knowingly and without lawful justification
follows a woman or her child or places them under surveillance directly or indirectly or
a combination thereof.
34. Dating relationship is a situation wherein unmarried parties live as husband and wife
or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the
relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in
a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
35. The law prescribes protection orders to prevent further acts of violence against a
woman or her child and granting other necessary relief to be enforced by law
enforcement agencies. These are the Barangay Protection Order, Temporary Protection
Order and Permanent Protection Order. The relief shall be granted even in absence of
decree of legal separation or annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage.
The protection is granted ex parte.
The orders are enforceable anywhere in country. Violation thereof shall be
punished with fine of P5,000 to P50,000 and/or imprisonment of 6 months.
36. Victims who are found by courts to be suffering from the battered woman syndrome do
not incur any criminal and civil liability notwithstanding the absence of any of the
elements of justifying circumstances of self-defense.
37. A battered woman is one who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or
psychological behavior by a man in order to coerce her to do something he wants her to
do without concern for her rights. Battered women include wives or women in any form
of intimate relationship with men. To be classified as such, the couple must go through
the battering cycle at least twice. Any woman may find herself in an abusive relationship
with a man once. If it occurs a second time, and she remains in the situation, she is
defined as a battered woman.

38. The battered woman syndrome is characterized by the cycle of violence, which has 3
phases: (a) tension-building; (b) acute battering incident; and (c) tranquil, loving or nonviolent.
39. At the tension-building phase, minor battering occurs verbal, physical abuse or other
form of hostile behavior. The woman tries to pacify the batterer but his behavior
legitimizes her belief that the man has the right to abuse her. At some point, violence
spirals out of control and leads to acute battering incident.
Acute battering incident is said to be characterized by brutality, destructiveness
and, sometimes, death. At this stage, the battered woman has a sense of detachment
from the attack and the terrible pain. Acute battering incidents are often very savage and
out of control, that bystanders or intervenors are likely to get hurt.
The final phase of cycle of violence begins when the acute battering incident
ends. During this tranquil period, the couple experience profound relief. On the one
hand, the batterer may show a tender and nurturing behavior towards his partner.
40. Because of the recurring cycles of violence, her state of mind metamorphoses. Acute
battering incidents can have the effect of stimulating the development of coping
responses to the trauma at the expense of the victims ability to muster an active
response to try to escape further trauma. Just as the battered woman believes that she is
somehow responsible for violent behavior of her partner, she also believes that he is
capable of killing her and that there is no escape. She feels unsafe, suffers from pervasive
anxiety, and usually fails to leave the relationship.
41. Where the brutalized person is already suffering from the syndrome, further evidence of
actual physical assault at the time of the killing is not required. To require the battered
person to await an obvious deadly attack before she can defend her life would amount
to sentencing her to murder by installment. Still impending danger prior to
defendants use of deadly force must be shown. Threatening behavior or communication
can satisfy the required imminence of danger. Considering such circumstances and the
existence of the syndrome, self-defense may be appreciated.
42. The defense must prove that all 3 phases of cycle of violence have occurred at least
twice. The final acute battering episode preceding the killing of the batterer must have
produced in the battered persons mind an actual fear of an imminent harm from
batterer and an honest belief that she needed to use force in order to save her life. At the
time of killing, the batterer must have posed probable not necessarily immediate and
actual grave harm to accused based on the history of violence by the former against the
latter. (Note: Section 26 of R.A. 9262 provides that the victim shall not incur any criminal
liability despite the absence of any of the justifying circumstances under the Revised
Penal Code.)
43. If the invocation of self-defense fails, the battered person can avail of 2 mitigating
circumstances: (a) psychological paralysis or diminution of freedom of action,
intelligence or intent analogous to illness that diminishes exercise of will-power without
depriving her of consciousness of her acts, and (b) passion and obfuscation, of having
acted upon an impulse so powerful as to have naturally produced passion and
obfuscation. The state of mind is present when a crime is the result of an uncontrollable
burst of passion provoked by prior unjust or improper acts or by a legitimate stimulus so
powerful as to overcome reason. These 2 circumstances do not arise from the same set
of facts. The first is from the cyclical nature and severity of battery. The second is from
violent aggression inflicted prior to the killing.