September 2013 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; elements. In order to constitute estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code, the act of postdating or issuing a check in payment of an obligation must be the efficient cause of the defraudation. This means that the offender must be able to obtain money or property from the offended party by reason of the issuance of the check, whether dated or postdated. In other words, the Prosecution must show that the person to whom the check was delivered would not have parted with his money or property were it not for the issuance of the check by the offender. The essential elements of this crime are the following: (a) a check is postdated or issued in payment of an obligation contracted at the time the check is issued; (b) lack or insufficiency of funds to cover the check; and (c) damage to the payee thereof. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

Estafa under Article 315(2)(d) of the Revised Penal Code; what the law punishes is fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of a worthless check. In this case, the Prosecution established that Ligaray had released the goods to Cañada because of the postdated check the latter had given to him; and that the check was dishonored when presented for payment because of the insufficiency of funds. In every criminal prosecution, however, the identity of the offender, like the crime itself, must be established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In that regard, the Prosecution did not establish beyond reasonable doubt that it was accused Wagas who had defrauded Ligaray by issuing the check. Firstly, Ligaray expressly admitted that he did not personally meet the person with whom he was transacting over the telephone. Even after the dishonor of the check, Ligaray did not personally see and meet whoever he had dealt with and to whom he had made the demand for payment, and that he had talked with him only over the telephone. Secondly, the check delivered to Ligaray was made payable to cash – this type of check was payable to the bearer and could be negotiated by mere delivery without the need of an indorsement. This rendered it highly probable that Wagas had issued the check not to Ligaray, but to somebody else like Cañada, his brother-in-law, who then negotiated it to Ligaray. Relevantly, Ligaray confirmed that he did not himself see or meet Wagas at the time of the transaction and thereafter, and expressly stated that the person who signed for and received the stocks of rice was Cañada.  It bears stressing that the accused, to be guilty of estafa as charged, must have used the check in order to defraud the complainant. What the law punishes is the fraud or deceit, not the mere issuance of the worthless check. Wagas could not be held guilty of estafa simply because he had issued the check used to defraud Ligaray. The proof of guilt must still clearly show that it had been Wagas as the drawer who had defrauded Ligaray by means of the check. Thus, considering that the circumstances of the identification of Wagas as the person who transacted on the rice did not preclude a reasonable possibility of mistake, the proof of guilt did not measure up to the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt demanded in criminal cases. People of the Philippines v. Gilbert Reyes Wagas, G.R. No. 157943, September 4, 2013.

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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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