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BAR Frequently Asked in Criminal Law Part 3

BAR Exams Frequently Asked Q&A Cases & Jurisprudence – Criminal Law – Audiobook Review Part 3

BAR FREQUENTLY ASKED IN CRIMINAL LAW

PART 3
Concepts and Jurisprudence

#1. CONSPIRACY

When accused-appellant Pugay poured gasoline on the victim’s body and thereafter his co- accused Samson set the victim on fire, there is nothing in the records showing that there was previous conspiracy or unity of criminal purpose and intention between the two accused-appellants immediately before the commission of the crime.

There was no animosity between the deceased and Pugay or Samson.

Their meeting at the scene of the incident was accidental. It is also clear that the accused and his group merely wanted to make fun of the deceased.

Hence, the respective criminal responsibility of Pugay and Samson arising from different acts directed against the deceased is individual and not collective, each of them is liable only for the act committed by him.

Pugay is liable for Homicide through Reckless Imprudence, while Samson is liable for Homicide.

Pugay failed to exercise all the diligence necessary to avoid every undesirable consequence arising from his act.

Samson knew very well that the liquid poured on the body of the deceased was gasoline and a flammable substance for he would not have committed the act of setting the latter on fire if it were otherwise.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it can be conceded that as of their fun-making he merely intended to set the deceased’s clothes on fire.

Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides, inter alia, that criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended. (PEOPLE vs. PUGAY, No. L-74324. November 17, 1988)

#2. FRUSTRATED FELONY

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.

Where the offender treacherously inflicted a wound upon the victim which was sufficient to have caused death, but the victim survives by reason of prompt medical attention, the offender is liable for frustrated murder. (PEOPLE vs. MISION. G.R. No. 63480. February 26,1991)

#3. SELF-DEFENSE

Self-defense is man’s inborn right. In a physical assault, retaliation becomes unlawful after the attack has ceased, because there would be no further harm to repel.

But that is not the case when it is aimed at a person’s good name.

Once the aspersion is cast its sting clings and the one thus defamed may avail himself of all the necessary means to shake it off.

He may hit back with another libel which, if adequate, will be justified. (PEOPLE vs. HIONG. No. 10413-R. October 20, 1954)

If there is no unlawful aggression, there is nothing to prevent or to repel and the second requisite of self-defense would have no basis.

Even if we allow appellant’s contention that Tuquero was the initial unlawful aggressor, we still cannot sustain his plea of self-defense.

After appellant successfully wrested the knife from Tuquero, the unlawful aggression had ceased.

After the unlawful aggression has ceased, the one making the defense has no more right to kill or even wound the former aggressor.

The presence of large number of wounds on the part of the victim, their nature and location disprove self-defense and instead indicate a determined effort to kill the victim. (PEOPLE vs. SO, G.R. No.104664. August 28, 1995)

Plainly, the accused-appellant could no longer retreat from the continuing assault by the victim who, as inexorably shown by his relentless advance towards the accused-appellant, was poised to kill the latter.
The danger to the accused-appellant’s life was clearly imminent.

It would not then be proper nor reasonable to claim that he should have fled or selected a less deadly weapon, because in the emergency in which, without any reason whatever, he was placed, there was nothing more natural than to use the weapon he had to defend himself.

In the natural order of the things, following the instinct of self-preservation, he was compelled to resort to a proper defense.

It is settled that reasonable necessity of the means employed does not imply material commensurability between the means of attack and defense.

What the law requires is rational equivalence, in the consideration of which will enter the principal factors 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, and the proportionateness thereof does not depend upon the harm done, but rests upon the imminent danger of such injury. (PEOPLE vs. GUTUAL. G.R. No. 115233. February 22,1996).

The actuation of deceased Fleischer in angrily ordering the continuance of the fencing would have resulted in the further chiseling of the walls of appellant’s house as well as the closure of the access to and from his house and his rice mill—which were not only imminent but were actually in progress.

There is no question, therefore, that there was aggression on the part of the victims: Fleischer was ordering, and Rubia was actually participating in the fencing.

This was indeed an aggression, not on the person of appellant, but on his property rights.

The reasonableness of the resistance is also a requirement of the justifying circumstance of self-defense or defense of one’s rights under paragraph 1 of Article 11, Revised Penal Code. When the appellant fired his shotgun from his window, killing his two victims, his resistance was disproportionate to the attack.

Appellant who was sleeping when the victims chiselled his house and fenced off his estate and who asked them to stop doing so is not guilty of sufficient provocation when he shot the victims who ignored his plea. (PEOPLE vs. NARVAEZ. Nos. L-33466-67. April 20,1983.)

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of aggression.

Even if we give credence to accused-appellant’s version of the events, specifically that the deceased hurled invectives at him and moved as if to draw something from his waist, the Court are unable to establish a finding of unlawful aggression on the victim’s part.

Unlawful aggression presupposes an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or intimidating attitude and the accused must present proof of positively strong act of real aggression. (PEOPLE vs. ARIZALA, G.R. No. 130708. October 22, 1999)

#4. OBEDIENCE TO ORDER OF A SUPERIOR OFFICER

The subordinate who, in following an order of the superior, failed to observe all auditing procedures of disbursement, cannot escape responsibility for such omission; but where he acted in good faith, his liability should only be administrative or civil in nature, not criminal. (TABUENA vs. SANDIGANBAYAN. G.R. Nos. 103501-03. February 17,1997)

#5. INSANITY AS EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCE

Accuse-appellant must thus prove that he was completely deprived of reason when he killed his father in order to be exempt for parricide.

There is nothing either in the report of Dr. Gerona or his testimony which indubitably show that accused-appellant was completely without reason when he killed his father because the latter wanted him to leave the house.

The defense of insanity is in the nature of confession and avoidance and, like the justifying circumstance of self- defense, the burden is on the defense to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was insane immediately before the commission of the crime or at the very moment of its execution.

Although schizophrenia is not exempting if it does not completely deprive the offender of the consciousness of his acts, it may nevertheless be considered mitigating under Art 13 (9) if it diminishes the exercise of his will power. (PEOPLE vs. BANEZ, G.R. No. 125849, January 20, 1999)

#6. EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCE OF MINORITY

With respect to accused-appellant Rene Estepano, the records show that he was only thirteen (13) years of age at the time of the commission of the offense.

Under Art.12, par. (3), of the RPC, a person over nine (9) years of age and under fifteen (15) years is exempt from criminal liability unless it is shown that he acted with discernment.

The minor referred to here is presumed to have acted without discernment. Thus, it is incumbent upon the prosecution to prove that such minor acted otherwise.

Even if he was indeed a co-conspirator, he would still be exempt from criminal liability as the prosecution failed to rebut the presumption of non-discernment on his part by virtue of his age. (PEOPLE vs. ESTEPANO. G.R. No. 126283. May 23,1999)

#7. ACCIDENT AS AN EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCE

At all events, accidents to be exempting, presupposes that the act done is lawful.

Here, however, the act of the accused-appellant of drawing a weapon in the course of a quarrel, the same not being in self-defense, is unlawful—it at least constitutes light threats (Art. 285,par. 1 of RPC). There is thus no room for the invocation of accident as ground for exemption.

The fact that the victim is not shot in the head, or in any vital part of her body does not negate intent to kill.

The extent of the physical injury inflicted on the victim, as above proved, manifests intention to extinguish life. Moreover, it was likewise declared that the bullet injured a vital organ of the victim. (PEOPLE vs. NEPOMUCENO, JR.. G.R. No.127818. November 11, 1998)

#8. VINDICATION OF A GRAVE OFFENSE AS MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE

The presence of the 5th mitigating circumstance, that is, immediate vindication of a grave offense to said accused, may be taken into consideration in favor of the two accused.

There was no interruption from the time the offense was committed to the vindication thereof.

The herein accused belong to a family of old customs to whom the elopement of a daughter with a man constitutes a grave offense to their honor and causes disturbance of the peace and tranquility of the home and at the same time spreads uneasiness and anxiety in the minds of the members thereof. ( PEOPLE vs. DIOKNO, No. 45100 . October 26, 1936)

#9. REITERACION

Reiteracion requires that if there is only one prior offense, that offense must be punishable by an equal or greater penalty than the one for which the accused has been convicted.

There is no reiteracion because that circumstance requires that the previous offenses should not be embraced in the same title of the Code.

While grave threats fall in a title, different from homicide, still reiteracion cannot be appreciated because such aggravating circumstance requires that if there is only one prior offense, that offense must be punishable by an equal or greater penalty that the one for which the accused has been convicted.

Likewise, the prosecution has to prove that the offender has been punished for the previous offense. There is no evidence presented by the prosecution to that effect. (PEOPLE vs. REAL, G.R. No. 93436. March 24, 1995)

#10. EVIDENT PREMEDITATION

In the absence of other notorious acts evincing his determination to murder the victim, known premeditation in the instant case cannot be deduced from the mere fact that six (6) hours before he stabbed the victim to death, the accused-appellant took the hunting knife of the victim.

There is nothing in the records to show that there was an enmity between the two and it is not for the Court to conjecture that there was. Indeed, it is foolhardy for the Court to draw from this single act a cold-blooded intention to take the life of another.

The killing was simply committed as a-spur-of-the-moment, induced by that degree of intoxication which then triggered the bellicosity in the accused-appellant who, incidentally, is known in the community as an ex-convict and a killer. (PEOPLE vs. CALIJAN, G.R. No. 94592. September 28, 1993)

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