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Criminal Law Pre-Week Discussions by Justice Mario V.


Crimes Mala in Se vs. Crimes Mala Prohibita

Mala in Se Mala Prohibita

Nature Wrong from its very nature, evil or Not inherently bad, evil or wrong, but
bad, universally condemned prohibited by law for public good,
public welfare or interest, and when
violated are penalized by law.
Essential Criminal intent Voluntariness
Defenses Good faith or lack of criminal intent Good faith is not a defense, only
may be raised as a defense defense is lack of voluntariness in the
commission of the crime
Commission Criminal liability is generally incurred The act gives rise to a crime only if it
even if it is only attempted or is consummated. There are no
frustrated attempted or frustrated stages, unless
otherwise stated by the special law.

Article 220 RPC Technical Malversation or illegal use of
public funds; a fund already appropriated by law or ordinance is
used for another public purpose; the intent, although lawful, is
immaterial, and good faith is not a defense in this crime.

RA 3019 Section 3(e) public officer or employee causing

undue injury to the government or a 3 person; good faith may

be a defense here as one of the elements of the crime is


RA 7610 PP vs. Bongalon a child was slapped, but without

showing of intent to demean or degrade the childs integrity, no
crime of child abuse was proved.

Dagdag-Bawas or vote shaving if done with intent but with

good faith, no crime is committed.
Art. 10 RPC
Art. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code.
Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under
special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code. This
Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter
should specially provide the contrary.

The provisions of the RPC is ALWAYS suppletory to special

penal laws, except when there is a prohibition in the said special
RA 9165 Section 98 Minors sentenced to life sentence to death
shall instead be sentenced to RECLUSION PERPETUA to
death. The consequence is that the special law allows the
application of the rules under the RPC to be applied, such as the
application of the mitigating circumstance of minority.

May a justifying circumstance (JC) be invoked for a violation of

a special law (such as illegal possession of firearms)?
No, JC must not have criminal intent. But since illegal
possession of firearms does not include intent as an element, JC
cannot be applied.

JC cannot be applied in crimes mala prohibita.

Characteristics of a penal statute:

1. Generality criminal law is binding on all persons who live
and sojourn within the Philippine territory.
2. Territoriality the law is enforceable within Philippine
territory, as a general rule.
3. Prospectivity a penal law cannot make an act punishable
in a manner in which it was not punishable at the time of its

Under UNCLOS III, we enforce the Fishing Code in the EEZ.

This is an example of territoriality within the territory of the

Continuing crimes is one where the offender performs a series of

acts violating one and the same provision of the penal code for
which the different elements of the penalized act began in one
place and ended in another. The result is that the crime may be
tried in the place where any of the essential elements of the
crime took place, or where the crime began and where the crime
was continued.

Issuing of a foreign check in the Philippines and drawn from the

US can be prosecuted here as the act of issuing a check was
done here.

Piracy is an extra-territorial crime and can be prosecuted

anywhere in the world since it is a violation of the law of

In cybercrime law, if you are a Filipino, if you violate the

cybercrimes law anywhere in the world, you will be prosecuted
in the Philippines.;

Terrorisms is triable in the Philippines even if it was committed

outside the Philippines as it was the causing of widespread fear
coupled with a demand against the government that is essential
to the commission of the crime, and also the law provides as to
the reach of the law.

Estafa committed abroad tried in the place committed.
Crime committed by public officer in the exercise of their
functions while abroad tried in the Philippines.

Bigamy is triable where the second marriage was contracted.

Perjurious statements were made in a complaint crafted in QC.
The document was notarized in QC, and was filed in RTC
Manila. Where should the crime of perjury be filed?
In QC as it was there where an oath was taken to make the
complaint into a public document.

Generality Principle
There is a limitation to this principle, the equal protection clause
of the Constitution. Penal laws may not be always applicable to
all, as there may be a valid classification germane to the purpose
of the law such as in RA 9262.

Use of firearms under RA10591 effective May 2013

Loose Firearm was broadened in scope and the penalties made
more severe.

If the use of a firearm is inherent in a crime, possession of an

unlicensed/loose firearm becomes a mere AC. If the penalty of
possession is higher than the penalty for the crime committed,
the penalty for illegal possession shall be imposed.

If the penalty for the possession of a firearm is equal to the

crime committed, there will be two crimes and the sentences are
to be imposed.

In the old law, in the crimes of rebellion and coup de etat,

possession of a firearm is absorbed by the crimes. Under the
new law, there shall be two crimes committed, and thus separate
penalties shall be imposed.

Note: That which is favorable to the accused should be applied.

Construction should favor the accused and strictly against the
government. In dubeo pro reo. When in doubt, for the
accused. The rule applies when the court is faced with two
possible interpretations of a penal statute, one favorable to the
accused, and the other unfavorable to him. The rule calls for an
adoption of an interpretation which is more lenient to the

Equipoise Rule There shall be acquittal in the criminal case

when the evidence presented by both prosecution and defense
are equal in weight since proof beyond reasonable doubt was not
achieved by the prosecution. However, accused shall be held
liable for the civil aspect since only preponderance of evidence
is required to prove liability thereto.

However, if the law is clear, there is no doubt, the law must be

applied as is. Dura lex, sed lex.
However, there could be a situation where Art. 21 is applicable:
nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege.

Void-for-vagueness rule
General Rule: The mode of facial challenge is not applicable to
a penal statute.
Exception: If there is already prejudice being committed, there
being a case already filed.
Exception to the Exception: If the penal statute encroaches on
freedom of expression, facial challenge will be allowed for
being overbroad in violation of the void-for-vagueness principle,
even if nobody has been prosecuted yet. (This has been applied
to the Cybercrime Law).

Immunity accorded to sovereign individuals (Ambassadors)

They are provided with diplomatic immunity of absolute range.
It means that for any crime they commit, they shall be immune
from prosecution.

However, if the immunity is because of treaty or stipulations

between international organizations, then immunities are
deemed to be functional in character. They are immune only on
crimes RELATED to their functions.

What is the important element in committing a crime?

Intent, the purpose why the accused performed the particular act.

Intent vs. Motive

Intent is the purpose to use a particular means to effect such
result, while motive is the moving power which impels one to
act for a definite result. Intent is an essential element of a crime,
while motive is not but can be a used to prove a crime was
indeed committed.

Specific intent must not only be alleged in the information, but

must be duly proven.

For one to be liable for the crime he intended to commit, that


If robbery was the intent, but he was apprehended when he was

destroying the window, robbery cannot be the crime that should
be filed against him. Malicious mischief is the proper crime.

Intended Crime and Composite Crime would result to a complex

crime if the intended crime is different from the resulting crime.

Art. 4 RPC
Criminal Liability
Art. 4. Criminal liability. Criminal liability shall be incurred:

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the

wrongful act done be different from that which he intended.

2. By any person performing an act which would be an

offense against persons or property, were it not for the
inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or an account of
the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

Delito and Impossible crimes

Delito or dolo a wrong was committed although it was
different than what was intended to be committed.

PP vs. Abarca
Abarca shot at a paramour. However, one of the bullets struck an
innocent bystander, killing him. He was found guilty only of
homicide due to negligence.

Accident can be invoked if one is doing a lawful act. But it does

not apply when one is doing an illegal act. What follows is in
consonance with the first paragraph of Article 4 RPC.

Note: when a victim is killed, there is the presumption that the

killing was intended.

Praeter intentionem
Test: Proportionality of the act committed in relation to the
injury inflicted.

Proximate Cause vs. Immediate Cause

Proximate cause is that cause without which the injury would

not result if there was no efficient intervening cause which
would alter the result.

Impossible crimes any person performing an act which would

be an offense against persons or property were it not for the
inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of
the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

The accused threw a grenade into the house of A. However, A

was watching a movie at a mall. What is the crime committed?
Arson by means of an explosive.

MEMORIZE ARTICLE 6! (Attempted, Frustrated,

Consummated) (It is a rescue doctrine)
Art. 6. Consummated, frustrated, and attempted felonies.
Consummated felonies as well as those which are frustrated and
attempted, are punishable.

A felony is consummated when all the elements necessary for

its execution and accomplishment are present; and it is
frustrated when the offender performs all the acts of
execution which would produce the felony as a consequence
but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of
causes independent of the will of the perpetrator.

There is an attempt when the offender commences the

commission of a felony directly or over acts, and does not
perform all the acts of execution which should produce the
felony by reason of some cause or accident other than this
own spontaneous desistance.

Preparatory Acts vs. Acts of Execution

Preparatory acts generally are not crimes, except when there is a
specific law punishing it.

Acts of execution are those acts done in the commission of a

crime, being essential elements of the crime committed.

Overt Acts are acts commencing the acts of execution, directly

manifesting the intention of the accused. Once performed, it will
determine whether not all acts were performed due to factors
other than spontaneous desistance of the accused (attempted), or
all acts were performed but the desired result was not achieved
due to other factors hindering the accused aside from
spontaneous desistance (frustrated) or that the desired result was
achieved (consummated).

Example: Pulling the trigger is the overt act of homicide using a

firearm. If the intention and overt act did not jibe, there may be
no crime at all or another crime was committed.
In theft/robbery, the overt act is the taking. Even when there is
constructive possession of the thing, the taking is consummated.

In falsification, the overt act is the moment a document is

falsified, there being no need for the use thereof as an element of
the crime.

In bribery under Article 210 (1), when a public officer agreed

with another person to falsify a document for a price, although
no consideration was as of yet given to him, the offeror shall be
liable for corruption of a public officer and as a principal to the
falsification of a public document by inducement. Public officer
shall be liable as a principal by indispensable participation.

Art. 10 RPC Relationship of RPC and Special Penal Laws

Art. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this Code.
Offenses which are or in the future may be punishable under
special laws are not subject to the provisions of this Code. This
Code shall be supplementary to such laws, unless the latter
should specially provide the contrary.

Justifying Circumstances vs. Exempting Circumstances

Justifying Circumstances there is no crime committed, no
intent to commit a crime and thus no civil liability
Exempting circumstances there is a crime committed but there
is no freedom and no intelligence, thus there is civil liability

1. Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided
that the following circumstances concur;
First. Unlawful aggression.
Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to
prevent or repel it.
Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person
defending himself.
2. Any one who acts in defense of the person or rights of his
spouse, ascendants, descendants, or legitimate, natural or
adopted brothers or sisters, or his relatives by affinity in the
same degrees and those consanguinity within the fourth civil
degree, provided that the first and second requisites prescribed
in the next preceding circumstance are present, and the further
requisite, in case the revocation was given by the person
attacked, that the one making defense had no part therein.

3. Anyone who acts in defense of the person or rights of a
stranger, provided that the first and second requisites mentioned
in the first circumstance of this Art. are present and that the
person defending be not induced by revenge, resentment, or
other evil motive.

Condition sine qua non is that there is unlawful aggression. If
there is none, there is no self-defense, nor even incomplete self-

Characteristics of unlawful aggression:

1. Material or physical act
2. Does not involve slander, libel or defamation
3. Actual or imminent aggression
4. Aggression is unlawful
5. Reasonable necessity of means employed to repel such

Actual or imminent aggression

A belief of the accused in relation to a mistake of fact is taken
into account. If reasonable, it shall be considered.

Aggression must have been continuous or continuing and had

not ceased by the time the accused made the attack himself in
his defense.

Aggression must be unlawful. Note that a law enforcement

officer can use force in excess of reasonable means since under
the circumstances, he must use such force to quell aggression,
subject to the rules of engagement law enforcement officers
must observe as the situation warrants (Ex. Warning shot before
disabling shot).

Minority relate with RA 9344
The law is liberally construed in relation to the minor.

Presumption of minority is always observed in favor of a minor.

However, this can be challenged by a summary proceeding. File
a motion to determine the age of the accused. Such proceeding
can be acted upon within 24 hours. Proof of minority must then
be presented.

If minority is invoked as an AC (ex. In rape), there is a strict

application of the law. The minority of the victim must be
proven. The allegation must state exactly the age of the victim,
and proven later on by primary or secondary evidence as to the
age of the victim. (Note the Constitutional right of the accused
to be informed of the nature of the crime against him.)

It is the prosecutors duty to prove that the minor acted with

discernment if the minor is above 15 but below 18 years of age.

Diversion treatment of a minor who is not exempt

Intervention treatment of a minor found to be exempt

If the minor is found guilty, the minor is entitled to a suspended

sentence without regard to the crime committed, even if it is a
capital crime. Suspension of sentence is mandatory. It can be
availed by a person who is 21 years old at the time he was
sentenced (but was a minor at the time the crime was

After the sentence is suspended, he is released. Otherwise, the

sentence shall be implemented.

If the court finds the minor was not reformed, the sentence shall
be implemented.

Probation law is not strictly applied in the case of a minor. If it is

for the best interest of the minor, probation may be
implemented. However, this is not applicable if the crime
committed is violation of RA 9165 under Section 24,
specifically if found guilty of drug trafficking or pushing under
Section 5 of the same law. RA 9165 itself provides for the non
applicability of the probation law to minors.

Section 24. Non-Applicability of the Probation Law

for Drug Traffickers and Pushers. Any person
convicted for drug trafficking or pushing under this
Act, regardless of the penalty imposed by the Court,
cannot avail of the privilege granted by the Probation
Law or Presidential Decree No. 968, as amended.

Absolutory Causes
Exempting circumstances exempting the offender from
prosecution by reason of public policy.

Absolutory causes are those where the actors are granted

freedom from charge or immunity from burden by reason of
public policy and sentiment, even if their acts constitute a crime.

Accessories with respect to spouses, ascendants, descendants,

brothers and sisters or relatives by affinity within the same
degrees, except those falling under paragraph 1 of Article 19

Art. 19. Accessories. Accessories are those who,

having knowledge of the commission of the crime,
and without having participated therein, either as
principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its
commission in any of the following manners: chan
robles virtual law library

1. By profiting themselves or assisting the offender

to profit by the effects of the crime.

Spouse or parents who inflicted less serious or slight physical

injuries to his or her spouse or their daughters living with them,
whom they surprise at the act of sexual intercourse with another.
(Art. 247 RPC)

Any person who enters the dwelling of another to prevent

serious harm to himself, the occupants of the dwelling or a third
person or rendered some service to humanity or justice, or enter
cafes, taverns, inns and other public houses which the same were
open. (Art 332 RPC)

In case of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or

caused mutually by spouses, ascendants and descendants or
relatives by affinity in the same time, and brothers and sisters
and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law if living together. (Art.
332 RPC) This is inapplicable if there is a complex crime

Instigation vs. Entrapment

Instigation, where the actor otherwise innocent, was induced by
a public officer to commit the crime such that the latter himself
becomes a principal by inducement or indispensable

Entrapment is a legitimate operation conducted by law enforcers

to conduct an actual transaction with the perpetrator, to catch
him in flagrante delicto.

In instigation, the instigator practically induces the will-be

accused into the commission of the offense and himself becomes
a co-principal, in entrapment ways and means are resorted to for
the purpose of trapping and capturing the law breaker in the
execution of his criminal plan. People vs Galicia.

In entrapment the crime had already been committed while in

instigation the crime was not yet and would not have been
committed were it not for the instigation of the peace officer.
People vs. Cahilig.

Mitigating Circumstances
Praeter Intentionem
The act must be proportionate to the crime committed

Plea of Guild
When there is a plea bargaining already conducted, there is no
need to be entitled to the privilege by putting a plea of guilt.

Voluntary Surrender
Surrender by the accused must be to a person or an agent of a
person in authority.

Vindication of a Grave Offense

That the act was committed in the immediate vindication of a
grave offense to the one committing the felony (delito), his
spouse, ascendants, or relatives by affinity within the same

Note that although the law says immediate vindication, the SC

interpreted this to actually mean PROXIMATE since the
Spanish words used in the former penal code was proxima.

So long as the accused had stayed affected by the grave offense

and hence is not in the proper state of mind to think over his acts
nor plan his acts, vindication of a grave offense shall be
applicable as MC.