Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Praeter Intentionem

When the Resulting Harm is Greater than Means Employed by the Offender

“Praeter intentionem” is defined as having an injurious result that is greater than that intended. The Revised Penal Code describes it as no intention to commit so grave a wrong.

In People vs. Ural, praeter intentionem is a mitigating circumstance “that the offender had no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed” (Par. 3, Art. 13, Revised Penal Code). It is manifested from the proven facts that appellant Ural had no intent to kill Napola.

His design being only to maltreat him, may be because in his drunken condition he was making a nuisance of himself inside the detention cell. Such that when he realized the fearful consequences of his felonious act, he allowed the victim to secure medical treatment at the municipal dispensary

People vs. Ural, G.R. No. L-30801 March 27, 1974

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Aberratio Ictus

Can A Wrongful Act Done Differently From That Which is Intended Incur Criminal Liability?

In “aberratio ictus” or mistake in the blow, a person directed the blow at an intended victim, but because of poor aim, that blow landed on somebody else. The intended victim as well as the actual victim are both at the scene of the crime.

In the People vs. Flora case, when Hermogenes Flora first fired his gun at Ireneo, but missed, and hit Emerita Roma and Flor Espinas instead, he became liable for Emerita’s death and Flor’s injuries. Hermogenes cannot escape culpability on the basis of aberratio ictus principle. Criminal liability is incurred by any person committing a felony, although the wrongful act be different from that which he intended.

Note, however, that when a person intended the commission of several felonies with a single act, it is not called aberratio ictus or mistake of blow, simply because there was no mistake in the commission of crime.

People vs. Flora, G.R. No. 125909, June 23, 2000

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Error in Personae

When does a Mistake in Identity Become a Criminal Liability?

Mistake In Identity

“Error in personae” or mistake in identity is injuring one person who is mistaken for another. The intended victim is not at the scene of the crime. It is the actual victim upon whom the blow was directed, but he is not really the intended victim. If the crime committed is the same as the crime intended, but on a different victim, error in persona does not affect the criminal liability of the offender.

The maxim “ignorantia facti excusat” applies only when the mistake is committed without fault or carelessness.

In this case, Oanis and Galanta, unlike Ah Chong, found no circumstances whatsoever which would press them to immediate action. The person in the room being then asleep, the two had ample time and opportunity to ascertain his identity without hazard to themselves, and could even effect a bloodless arrest if any reasonable effort to that end had been made, as the victim was accordingly unarmed. This, indeed, is the only legitimate course of action for appellants to follow even if the victim was really Balagtas, as they were instructed not to kill Balagtas at sight but to arrest him, and to get him dead or alive only if resistance or aggression is offered by him.

The crime committed by Oanis and Galanta is not merely criminal negligence, the killing being intentional and not accidental. 

People vs. Oanis, G.R. No. L-47722, July 27, 1943

Jurisprudence Criminal Law

Mistake of Fact

Is There Criminal Liability for Ignorance or Mistake of Fact?

The legal maxim, “Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea,” aptly justifies that the act itself does not make man guilty unless his intention were so.

In the absence of malice (criminal intent), negligence, and imprudence, does not impose any criminal liability on the actor.

Ignorance or mistake of fact, if such ignorance or mistake of fact is sufficient to negative a particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of the offense charged “cancels the presumption of intent,” and works an acquittal; except in those cases where the circumstances demand a conviction under the penal provisions touching criminal negligence; and in cases where, under the provisions of Article 1 of the (old) Penal Code one voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor incurs criminal liability for any wrongful act committed by him, even though it be different from that which he intended to commit. There is no criminal liability, provided always that the alleged ignorance or mistake of fact was not due to negligence or bad faith.

US vs. AH CHONG, G.R. No. L-5272, March 19,1910

Jurisprudence Civil Law

Whether or not abandonment leads to nullity of marriage

This case is whether or not abandonment by a spouse, by itself, warrants a finding of psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code, that leads to nullity of marriage. 

The court ruled in the negative. “It must be shown that such abandonment is a manifestation of a disordered personality which makes the spouse concerned completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state.” – Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, in his dissenting opinion, ruled in contrast stating that for thirty-one years, petitioner has been alone without a spouse. “Parties should not be forced to stay in unhappy or otherwise broken marriages in the guise of protecting the family. This avoids the reality that people fall out of love. There is always the possibility that human love is not forever.”

GR No. 203284 November 14, 2016

Civil Law Jurisprudence

Psychological Incapacity as a Ground for Void Marriage

This case was originally commenced by a distraught wife against her uncaring husband, which decreed the annulment of the marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity.

Refusal of husband to have sex was interpreted to be psychological incapacity. A man who can but won’t is psychologically incapacitated. 

“Love is useless unless it is shared with another… In the natural order, it is sexual intimacy which brings spouses wholeness and oneness. Sexual intimacy is a gift and a participation in the mystery of creation. It is a function which enlivens the hope of procreation and ensures the continuation of family relations.” – Justice Justo Torres Jr. 

Article 36 of the Family Code states: A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization

GR No. 119190 January 16, 1997