Criminal Law Doctrines

Mala In Se vs. Mala Prohibita

Mala in se (“evil in itself”) – A crime or an act that is inherently immoral, such as murder, arson or rape. [Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Ed.] 

Mala prohibita (“prohibited evil”) – An act that is a crime merely because it is prohibited by statute, although the act itself is not necessarily immoral. [Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Ed.] 

Violations of the Revised Penal Code are referred to as malum in se, which literally means, that the act is inherently evil or bad or per se wrongful. On the other hand, violations of Special Laws are ‘generally’ referred to as malum prohibitum.

A common misconception is that all mala in se crimes are found in the Revised Penal Code (RPC), while all mala prohibita crimes are provided by special penal laws. In reality, however, there may be mala in se crimes under special laws, such as plunder under R.A. No. 7080, as amended. Similarly, there may be mala prohibita crimes defined in the RPC, such as technical malversation.

The better approach to distinguish between mala in se and mala prohibita crimes is the determination of the inherent immorality or vileness of the penalized act. If the punishable act or omission is immoral in itself, then it is a crime mala in se, -on the contrary, if it is not immoral in itself, but there is a statute prohibiting its commission b)”. reasons of public policy, then it is mala prohibita. 

In the final analysis, whether or not a crime involves moral turpitude is ultimately a question of fact and frequently depends on all the circumstances surrounding the violation of the statute.

Dungo vs. People, G.R. No. 209464, July 1, 2015

Civil Law Doctrines

Lex Prospicit, Non Respicit

A legal maxim that means “the law looks forward, not backward.” Article 4 of the New Civil Code provides, “Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided.” 

Hence, laws are presumed to be prospective unless the intent of the legislature to give them a retroactive effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied from the language used. In case of doubt, it shall be resolved against retroactivity.

General Rule
The Supreme Court held that Statutes are prospective and not retroactive in their operation, they being the formulation of rules for the future, not the past. Hence, the legal maxim “lex de futuro, judex de praeterito” — the law provides for the future, the judge for the past, which is articulated in Article 4 of the Civil Code: “Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided.” (Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation vs Stockholders of Intercity Savings and Loan Bank, Inc., G.R. No. 181556 December 14, 2009)

(1) When the law itself expressly provides except:
(a) Ex post facto law
(b) Impairment of contract
(2) In case of remedial statutes
(3) In case of curative statutes
(4) In case of laws interpreting others
(5) In case of laws creating new rights [Bona v.
Briones (1918)]
(6) Penal Laws favorable to the accused

Criminal Law Doctrines

Chain of Custody Rule – RA 9165 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002

The following links must be established in the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation:

FIRST, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer;

SECOND, the turn over of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer (within 24 hours);

THIRD, the turn over by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and

FOURTH, the turn over and submission of the marked illegal drugs seized from the forensic chemist to the court.

People vs. Constantino, Jr. GR No. 199689, March 12, 2014

Civil Law Doctrines

The Doctrine of Renvoi

The Renvoi Doctrine is a legal doctrine which applies when a court is faced with a conflict of law and must consider the law of another state, referred to as private international law rules. This can apply when considering foreign issues arising in succession planning and in administering estates.

In this case, the Supreme Court found that as the domicile of the deceased Christensen, a citizen of California, is the Philippines, the validity of the provisions of his will depriving his acknowledged natural child, the appellant, should be governed by the Philippine Law, the domicile, pursuant to Art. 946 of the Civil Code of California, not by the internal law of California.

Aznar, Christensen vs. Garcia, GR No. L-16749

Civil Law Jurisprudence

Gender Classification

Where the person is biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the intersexed person, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex.

Here, respondent thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male hormones (androgen), there is preponderant biological support for considering him as being male. 

Republic vs. Cagandahan, GR 166676

Criminal Law Doctrines

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine

The fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine provides that evidence obtained and confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable searches and seizures are deemed tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.

In other words, evidence obtained from unreasonable searches and seizures shall be inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any proceeding.

Comerciante vs. People, G.R. No. 205926

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Rebellion as Complex Crime

Rebellion Can Now Be Complexed with Common Crimes

Rebellion can now be complexed with common crimes – killings, and/or destructions of property, even though committed by rebels in furtherance of rebellion, shall bring about complex crimes of rebellion with murder/homicide, or rebellion with robbery, or rebellion with arson.

Not long ago, Enrile v. Salazar, 86 SCRA 217, and People v. Hernandez, 99 Phil 515 affirmed the rule that rebellion may not be complexed with common crimes. However, in amending Article 135, the acts which used to be component crimes of rebellion, like serious acts of violence, have been deleted. These are now distinct crimes. The legal obstacle for the application of Article 48, therefore, has been removed.