August 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select August 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            Revised Penal Code

Crime of Open Disobedience; elements. The Municipal Trial Court (MTC) did not gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing Criminal Case No. 46400 for lack of probable cause. The dismissal ought to be sustained since the records clearly disclose the unmistakable absence of the integral elements of the crime of Open Disobedience. While the first element, i.e., that the offender is a judicial or executive officer, concurs in view of Atty. Fria’s position as Branch Clerk of Court, the second and third elements of the crime evidently remain wanting. To elucidate, the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience is that there is a judgment, decision, or order of a superior authority made within the scope of its jurisdiction and issued with all legal formalities. In this case, it is undisputed that all the proceedings in Civil Case No. 03-110 have been regarded as null and void due to Branch 203’s lack of jurisdiction over the said case. Hence, since it is explicitly required that the subject issuance be made within the scope of a superior authority’s jurisdiction, it cannot therefore be doubted that the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience does not exist. Proceeding from this discussion, the third element of the crime, i.e., that the offender, without any legal justification, openly refuses to execute the said judgment, decision, or order, which he is duty bound to obey, cannot equally exist. Indubitably, without any jurisdiction, there would be no legal order for Atty. Fria to implement or, conversely, disobey. The Law Firm of Chavez Miranda and Aseoche, et al v. Atty. Josejina C. Fria, G.R. No. 183014, August 7, 2013.

Extinguishment of criminal liability by the death of the accused prior to final judgment; effect of death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction on his civil liability ex delicto. Article 89, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code states that, “Criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefore is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.” Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto. Since the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case. Undeniably, Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 preceded the promulgation by the Supreme Court (SC) of its Decision on January 9, 2013. When Amistoso died, his appeal before the SC was still pending and unresolved. The SC ruled upon Amistoso’s appeal only because it was not immediately informed of his death. Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 renders the SC’s Decision dated January 9, 2013, even though affirming Amistoso’s conviction, irrelevant and ineffectual. Moreover, said Decision has not yet become final, and the SC still has the jurisdiction to set it aside. People of the Philippines v. Anastacio Amistoso y Broca, G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013.

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July 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select July 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Bigamy; elements. The elements of the crime of bigamy are: (1) the offender has been legally married; (2) the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity. James Walter P. Capili v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183805, July 3, 2013.

Bigamy; bigamy committed even if second marriage is subsequently declared void. In the present case, it appears that all the elements of the crime of bigamy were present when the Information was filed on June 28, 2004. It is undisputed that a second marriage between petitioner and private respondent was contracted on December 8, 1999, during the subsistence of a valid first marriage. Notably, the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City itself declared the bigamous nature of the second marriage between petitioner and private respondent. Thus, the subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of the second marriage for being bigamous does not bar the prosecution of petitioner for the crime of bigamy. Jurisprudence is replete with cases holding that the accused may still be charged with the crime of bigamy, even if there is a subsequent declaration of the nullity of the second marriage, so long as the first marriage was still subsisting when the second marriage was celebrated. Finally, it is a settled rule that the criminal culpability attaches to the offender upon the commission of the offense, and from that instant, liability appends to him until extinguished as provided by law. It is clear then that the crime of bigamy was committed by petitioner from the time he contracted the second marriage with private respondent. Thus, the finality of the judicial declaration of nullity of petitioner’s second marriage does not impede the filing of a criminal charge for bigamy against him. James Walter P. Capili v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183805, July 3, 2013.

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April 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select April 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

 Conspiracy; conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the accused-appellants before, during and after the commission of the crime which indubitably point to a joint purpose, concerted action and community of interest. Spouses Betty and Monico were among the ten accused convicted by the trial court for kidnapping a certain Albert Yam for ransom. Although Betty and Monico did not participate in actually abducting Albert, it was in their abandoned house where Albert was brought to by the eight other accused. Also, Betty and Monico twice visited the safehouse where Albert was brought, with Betty serving food for Albert and Monico assisting the latter in climbing up and down the stairs. The Supreme Court considered them as co-conspirators. In a conspiracy to commit the crime of kidnapping for ransom, the place where the victim is to be detained is logically a primary consideration. In the case of Betty and Monico, it can be reasonably inferred that the house fitted the purpose of the kidnappers. Albert’s detention was accomplished not solely by reason of the restraint exerted upon him by the presence of guards in the safehouse, but by the circumstance of being put in a place where escape became highly improbable. In other words, Betty and Monico were indispensable in the kidnapping of Albert because they knowingly and purposely provided the venue to detain Albert. The spouses’ ownership of the safehouse, Monico’s presence therein during Albert’s arrival on the evening of April 7, 2002 and Betty’s visits to bring food reasonably indicate that they were among those who at the outset planned·, and thereafter concurred with and participated in the execution of the criminal design. The conviction of Betty and Monico was affirmed. People of the Philippines v. Betty Salvador y Tabios, et al, G.R. No. 201443, April 10, 2013.

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March 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select March 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Rape; medical examination of victim not indispensable to prove rape. An inconclusive medical report does not negate the finding that the accused (Penilla) raped AAA. A medical examination of the victim is not indispensable in a prosecution for rape inasmuch as the victim’s testimony alone, if credible, is sufficient to convict the accused of the crime. In fact, a doctor’s certificate is merely corroborative in character and not an indispensable requirement in proving the commission of rape. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Penilla y Francia, G.R. No. 189324, March 20, 2013.

Rape; moral character of the victim is immaterial.  Accused Penilla’s insistence that he was then a virile young man of twenty-three years, lusted after by a separated and older woman, loses significance in light of the dictum that in rape cases, the moral character of the victim is immaterial. Rape may be committed not only against single women and children but also against those who are married, middle-aged, separated, or pregnant. Even a prostitute may be a victim of rape. Correlatively and more importantly, the libidinousness of the victim here, AAA, which is not accepted as a common attribute, should have been proven outside of the incident on the midnight of 22 October 1999. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Penilla y Francia, G.R. No. 189324, March 20, 2013.

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February 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select February 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy; joint purpose and design. Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode, method, and manner in which the offense was perpetrated; orinferred from the acts of the accused when those acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and community of interests.Proof of a previous agreement and decision to commit the crime is not essential, but the fact that the malefactors acted in unison pursuant to the same objective suffices. In this case, the prosecution decisively established a community of criminal design among Alvarico, Reyes, and appellant Pondivida. While there is no evidence of any previous agreement among the assailants to commit the crime, their concerted acts before, during and after the incident establish a joint purpose and intent to kill. As attested to by accused-appellant, they all went to the intended victim’s house bearing firearms. Accused-appellant himself knocked on the door. After failing to locate “Udoy” and “Bagsik,” and discovering that Gener was the latter’s brother, they then engaged in a lengthy conversation, as they circled around a nearby well outside the house.Accused even admitted to shouting the name “Bagsik” over and over.They all asked Gener to step outside and speak withthem. Upon his refusal, appellant Pondivida, together with Alvarico, entered the house through an upstairs window. Alvarico fired at George who was at the stairs. Reyes, from his vantage point at the front door, also shot at George.After fleeing the scene, appellant Pondivida admitted that he met with Alvarico in Novaliches. Alvarico gave him money, and the latter thereafter boarded a bus headed to Olongapo City. Their acts together were indicative of a common purpose, which was murder. People of the Philippines v. John Alvin Pondivida, G.R. No. 188969, February 27, 2013.

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January 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select January 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Conspiracy. Appellant questions the lower courts’ finding of conspiracy between her and co-accused. She claims that she merely accompanied Espiritu in going to the RFC Food Court and had nothing to do with the transaction. As a matter of fact, the shabu was not even found in or recovered from her possession. It just so happened that she was in the area during the delivery of the drugs. The argument did not persuade the Supreme Court. There is conspiracy if two or more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy must be proven on the same quantum of evidence as the felony subject of the agreement of the parties. Conspiracy may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence consisting of acts, words, or conduct of the alleged conspirators before, during and after the commission of the felony to achieve a common design or purpose. The existence of conspiracy in this case was clearly established not only by the prosecution’s evidence but also by appellant’s very own testimony. As can be gleaned from appellant’s testimony as well as from the testimony of Carla as to what transpired during the actual buy-bust operation, appellant acted in common concert with her co-accused in the illegal sale of shabu. She cannot therefore isolate her act of merely accompanying Espiritu to the RFC Food Court or carrying the shabu since in conspiracy the act of one is the act of all. To be a conspirator, one need not participate in every detail of the execution; he need not even take part in every act or need not even know the exact part to be performed by the others in the execution of the conspiracy. People of the Philippines v. Simpresueta M. Seraspe, G.R. No. 180919, January 9, 2013.

Extinction of criminal liability and civil liability ex delicto upon death of accused. Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides that criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment. It is also settled that “upon the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction, the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal.” While appellant Florencio died way back on February 7, 2007, the said information was not timely relayed to the Supreme Court (SC), such that the SC was unaware of the same when it rendered its December 14, 2011 Decision. It was only later that the SC was informed of Florencio’s death through the June 8, 2012 letter of the Officer-in-Charge of the New Bilibid Prison. Due to this development, it therefore became necessary for the SC to declare Florencio’s criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto, to have been extinguished by his death prior to final judgment. The judgment of conviction is thus set aside insofar as Florencio is concerned. People of the Philippines v. Florencio Agacer, et al, G.R. No. 177751, January 7, 2013.

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December 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are select December 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Rape; Pruna Guidelines. In this case, the prosecution may have been unable to present AAA’s birth certificate or other authentic document such as a baptismal certificate during trial in accordance with the formulated set of guidelines in People v. Pruna in appreciating age either as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance in rape cases. However, that failure to present relevant evidence did not deter the Supreme Court from upholding that qualified rape was indeed committed by the accused Padigos because he himself admitted, in his counter-affidavit which formed part of the evidence for the defense and the contents of which he later affirmed in his testimony in open court, that AAA was below 7 years old around the time of the rape incident. In the Court’s view, this admission from accused, taken with the testimony of the victim, sufficiently proved the victim’s minority. People of the Philippines v. Edgar Padigos, G.R. No. 181202, December 5, 2012.

Rape; resistance. Accused Estoya attempts to raise doubts in victim AAA’s testimony by questioning the latter’s failure to offer tenacious resistance during the supposed sexual assault. The Supreme Court held that the law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving resistance. Physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and she submits herself against her will to the rapist’s lust because of fear for life and personal safety. In the case at bar, AAA was only 14 years of age at the time of the rape, and at such a tender age, she could not be expected to put up resistance as would be expected from a mature woman. Also, Estoya had threatened AAA that he would stab her with a knife if she resisted. People of the Philippines v. Radby Estoya y Mateo, G.R. No. 200531, December 5, 2012.

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