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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November 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.            REVISED PENAL CODE

Proximate cause; definition. The Supreme Court rejected the argument of petitioners that the Court of Appeals failed to consider in its entirety the testimony of the doctor who performed the autopsy. What really needs to be proven in a case when the victim dies is the proximate cause of his death. Proximate cause has been defined as “that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.” The autopsy report indicated that the cause of the victim’s death is multiple organ failure. According to Dr. Wilson Moll Lee, the doctor who conducted the autopsy, it can be surmised that multiple organ failure was secondary to a long standing infection secondary to a stab wound which the victim allegedly sustained. Thus, it can be concluded that without the stab wounds, the victim could not have been afflicted with an infection which later on caused multiple organ failure that caused his death. The offender is criminally liable for the death of the victim if his delictual act caused, accelerated or contributed to the death of the victim. Rodolfo Belbis Jr. y Competente and Alberto Brucales v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181052, November 14, 2012.

Rape; qualifying circumstances; concurrence of minority and relationship. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, the concurrence of minority and relationship qualifies the crime of rape. To warrant the imposition of the death penalty, however, both the minority and the relationship must be alleged in the Information and proved during the trial. In the instant case, both circumstances were properly alleged in the Informations and proved during trial. The Informations alleged that AAA was 15 years old when the crimes were committed. Her minority was established not only by her Certificate of Live Birth but also by her testimony that she was born on November 6, 1985. Anent AAA’s relationship with appellant, the Informations sufficiently alleged that AAA is appellant’s daughter. This fact was likewise openly admitted by the appellant and further bolstered by the said Certificate of Live Birth indicating appellant as AAA’s father. Moreover, the relationship between appellant and AAA became the subject of admission during the pre-trial conference. Hence, pursuant to the said article, the presence of the above special qualifying circumstances increases the penalty to death.  In view, however, of the passage of R.A. No. 9346 proscribing the imposition of death penalty, the proper penalty imposable on appellant, in lieu of death and pursuant to Section 2 thereof, is reclusion perpetua. People of the Philippines v. Enerio Ending y Onyong, G.R. No. 183827, November 12, 2012.

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June 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1. REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; elements. Entrenched in jurisprudence are the following essential elements of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code: (a) that money, goods or other personal properties are received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return, the same; (2) that there is a misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; (3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (4) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender. In this case, all these elements have been sufficiently established by the prosecution in this case. Andre L. D’Aigle v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 174181, June 27, 2012.

Estafa; misappropriation;Trust Receipts Law. In order that the respondents may be validly prosecuted for estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, in relation with Section 13 of the Trust Receipts Law, the following elements must be established: (a) they received the subject goods in trust or under the obligation to sell the same and to remit the proceeds thereof to [the trustor], or to return the goods if not sold; (b) they misappropriated or converted the goods and/or the proceeds of the sale; (c) they performed such acts with abuse of confidence to the damage and prejudice of the entrustor; and (d) demand was made on them by [the trustor] for the remittance of the proceeds or the return of the unsold goods. Land Bank of the Philippines v. Lamberto C. Perez, et al., G.R. No. 166884, June 13, 2012.

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April 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

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

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Composite crime; defined.  The felony of rape with homicide is a composite crime.  A composite crime, also known as a special complex crime, is composed of two or more crimes that the law treats as a single indivisible and unique offense for being the product of a single criminal impulse. It is a specific crime with a specific penalty provided by law and differs from a compound or complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that “[w]hen a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. People v. Villaflores,G.R. No. 184926, April 11, 2012.

Composite crime and compound crime differentiated. There are distinctions between a composite crime, on the one hand, and a complex or compound crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand. In a composite crime, the composition of the offenses is fixed by law; in a complex or compound crime, the combination of the offenses is not specified but generalized, that is, grave and/or less grave, or one offense being the necessary means to commit the other. For a composite crime, the penalty for the specified combination of crimes is specific; for a complex or compound crime, the penalty is that corresponding to the most serious offense, to be imposed in the maximum period. A light felony that accompanies a composite crime is absorbed; a light felony that accompanies the commission of a complex or compound crime may be the subject of a separate information. People v. Villaflores, G.R. No. 184926, April 11, 2012.

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January 2012 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected January 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1.         REVISED PENAL CODE

Estafa; probable cause. East Asia acted as dealer of commercial papers and custodian of the same on Zamora’s behalf.  This is clear from the terms of its sale invoice and custodian receipt.  East Asia acquired the commercial papers in trust and was obliged to deliver them and their proceeds to Zamora, failing which, its responsible officers could be prosecuted for estafa.  However, there was no probable cause to charge the respondents with estafa.  Zamora failed to identify the particular officers of East Asia who were responsible for the misappropriation or conversion of her funds. She simply assumed that since she had been communicating with them in connection with her investments, they all had a part in misappropriating her money or converting them to their use.  Many of them were evidently mere employees doing work for East Asia.  She did not submit proof of their specific criminal role in the transactions she assailed.  It is settled that only corporate officers who actually had part in the crime may be held liable for it. Virginia A. Zamora v. Jose Armado L. Eduque, et al, G.R. No. 174005, January 25, 2012.

Estafa through falsification; presumption of authorship. Metrobank urges the application of the presumption of authorship against Tobias based on his having offered the duplicate copy of the spurious title to secure the loan, and posits that there is no requirement that the presumption shall apply only when there is absence of a valid explanation from the person found to have possessed, used and benefited from the forged document. Metrobank’s theory was not sustained here. First, a presumption affects the burden of proof that is normally lodged in the State. The effect is to create the need of presenting evidence to overcome the prima facie case that shall prevail in the absence of proof to the contrary. As such, a presumption of law is material during the actual trial of the criminal case where in the establishment thereof the party against whom the inference is made should adduce evidence to rebut the presumption and demolish the prima facie case. This is not so in a preliminary investigation, where the investigating prosecutor only determines the existence of a prima facie case that warrants the prosecution of a criminal case in court. Second, the presumption of authorship, being disputable, may be accepted and acted upon where no evidence upholds the contention for which it stands. It is not correct to say, consequently, that the investigating prosecutor will try to determine the existence of the presumption during preliminary investigation, and then to disregard the evidence offered by the respondent. Moreover, the presumption that whoever possesses or uses a spurious document is its forger applies only in the absence of a satisfactory explanation.  Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank), represented by Rosella A. Santiago v. Antonio O. Tobias III, G.R. No. 177780, January 25, 2012.

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May 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected May 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1. CRIMINAL LAW

Conspiracy; proof. Conspiracy requires the same degree of proof required to establish the crime — proof beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, mere presence at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission without proof of cooperation or agreement to cooperate is not enough to constitute one a party to a conspiracy. Michael San Juan y Cruz v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 177191, May 30, 2011.

Continued crimes; foreknowledge to prove single intent. Petitioner’s theory, fusing his liability to one count of Grave Threats because he only had “a single mental resolution, a single impulse, and single intent” to threaten the Darongs assumes a vital fact: that he had foreknowledge of Indalecio, Diosetea, and Vicente’s presence near the water tank in the morning of 8 April 1999. The records, however, belie this assumption. Moreover, petitioner went to the water tank not to execute his “single intent” to threaten Indalecio, Diosetea, and Vicente but to investigate a suspected water tap. Not having known in advance of the Darongs’ presence near the water tank at the time in question, petitioner could not have formed any intent to threaten any of them until shortly before he inadvertently came across each of them. Petitioner’s theory holds water only if the facts are altered – that is, he threatened Indalecio, Diosetea, and Vicente at the same place and at the same time. Santiago Paera v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181626, May 30, 2011.

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November 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Criminal Law and Procedure

Here are selected November 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:

1. CRIMINAL LAW

Conspiracy. When a homicide takes place by reason of or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who took part shall be guilty of the special complex crime of robbery with homicide, whether or not they actually participated in the killing, unless there is proof that there was an endeavor to prevent the killing. In this case, the records are bereft of any evidence to prove, or even remotely suggest, that appellant attempted to prevent the killing.  Therefore, the basic principle in conspiracy that the “act of one is the act of all” applies in this case.  People of the Philippines vs. Nonoy Ebet, G.R. No. 181635, November 15, 2010

Conspiracy. 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.  Each conspirator may be assigned separate and different tasks which may appear unrelated to one another but, in fact, constitute a whole collective effort to achieve their common criminal objective. Once conspiracy is shown, the act of one is the act of all the conspirators.  The precise extent or modality of participation of each of them becomes secondary, since all the conspirators are principals.  To exempt himself from criminal liability, a conspirator must have performed an overt act to dissociate or detach himself from the conspiracy to commit the felony and prevent the commission thereof. People of the Philippines vs. Nonoy Ebet, G.R. No. 181635, November 15, 2010

Qualified theft.  The Supreme Court upheld the appellant’s conviction for qualified theft. The position held by the appellant in St. John Memorial Park and Garden, as well as the special assignment given to her (appellant) by the land owners, were vested with trust and confidence. The appellant had custody of two bankbooks in which deposits of what she received were to be reflected.  Appellant’s failure to account for the subject funds which she was under obligation to deposit constitutes asportation with intent of gain, committed with grave abuse of the confidence reposed on her.  People of the Philippines vs. Rosalie Colilap Bañaga, G.R. No. 183699. November 24, 2010

Rape; penalty and damages. Under the second part of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, the death penalty shall be imposed when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim. As shown by her Certificate of Live Birth, AAA was born on June 1, 1986; AAA also testified to this fact. Clearly, AAA was only eleven years old when the three rapes happened in September 1997. Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals was correct in reducing the death penalty to reclusion perpetua because the circumstance of relationship was not alleged in the complaints. None of the complaints alleged that the appellant was the stepfather of AAA. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Macafe y Nabong, G.R. No. 185616, November 24, 2010

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