FAQ’s on Criminal Law

FAQ’s on Criminal Law

A person merely served as a lookout in the commission of a crime, what is his liability?

He is a principal since one who participates in the material execution of the crime by standing guard or lending moral support to the actual perpetrator is criminally responsible to the same extent as the latter.

What must an accused establish when he pleads self-defense?

In self-defense the burden of proof rests upon the accused. His duty is to establish by sufficient, satisfactory and convincing evidence the following requisites: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and, (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

Is direct proof necessary to prove conspiracy?

Direct proof is not essential to establish conspiracy as this may be inferred from the acts of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime whuch indubitably, point to and are indicative of a joint purpose, concert of action and community of interest.

When is it proper to award exemplary damages in a crime of rape?

The relationship of stepfather or stepmother and stepson or stepdaughter is included by analogy as similar to that of ascendant and descendant, and where appreciated as an aggravating circumstance in rape, the award of exemplary damages, in addition to moral damages, is proper.

Does an unexpected and sudden attack constitute treachery?

An unexpected and sudden attack under circumstances which render the victim unable and unprepared to defend himself by reason of the suddenness and severity of the attack constitutes alevosia, and the fact that the act was frontal does not preclude the presence of treachery.

Is there treachery when the victim is attacked while defenseless and dying?

There is treachery  where the victim, soaked in his own blood, defenseless, and calling for help, weakened and dying, was still attacked, thus employed means to insure or afford impunity.

What are the requisites of treachery?

For treachery to be present, two conditions must concur, namely, (a) the employment of means of execution that gives the personnattacked no opportunity to defend himself or retaliate, and (b) the means of execution was deliberately or consciously adopted.

When is the aggravating circumstance of nighttime absorbed in treachery?

Nighttime or nocturnity is absorbed in treachery when it is an integral part of pecuIiar treacherous means and manner adopted to ensure the execution of the crimes or that it facilitated the treacherous character of the attack.

What are the elements of the crime penalized under B.P. 22 or the Bouncing Checks Law?

The elements of the offense penalized under B.P. Blg. 22 are: (1) making, drawing, and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (2) knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit, or dishonor of the check for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment.

What is due process in a criminal case?

In a criminal case, due process requires that, among others, the accusation be in due form, and that notice thereof and an opportunity to answer the charge be given the accused; hence, the constitutional and reglementary guarantees as to accused’s right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.” An accused should be given the necessary data as to why he is being proceeded against and not be left in the unenviable state of speculating why he is made the object of a prosecution, it being the fact that, in criminal cases, the liberty, even the life, of the accused is at stake. It is always wise and proper that the accused be fully apprised of the charge against him in order to avoid any possible surprise that may lead to injustice.

Is treachery present when a person is killed while asleep or just awakened?

It has been repeatedly held by this Court that there exists the qualifying circumstance of treachery when one takes the life of a person who is asleep. As for a victim who had just awakened when attacked, there was also treachery “because the victim, who may still be dazed and unprepared for the attack, would not be in a position to offer any risk or danger of retaliation to the attacker.

If nothing is concealed or needed to be discovered, when does the prescriptive period commence to run in estafa cases?

The period of prescription commences to run from the date of the commission of the crime if it is known at the time of its commission. Thus, if there is nothing that was concealed or needed to be discovered, because the entire series of transactions was by public instruments, duly recorded, the crime of estafa committed in connection with said transaction was known to the offended party when it was committed and the period of prescription commenced to run from the date of its commission.

How is the aggravating circumstance of premeditation appreciated?

Premeditation cannot be appreciated if the evidence does not show when the plan to kill was hatched, or how much time had elapsed before it was carried out. There must be a basis for determining whether the accused had sufficient time between the inception of the plan and its fulfillment to dispassionately consider and accept its consequences.

When is there treachery in the commission of a crime?

There is treachery when the means, manner or method of attack employed by the offender offered no risk to himself from any defensive or retaliatory act which the victim might have taken.

In the crime of robbery with homicide, where conspiracy is present, what are the liabilities of those who took part in its commission?

In a prosecution for robbery with homicide, where conspiracy is present, it does not matter that the prosecution had failed to show who as between the two (2) accused actually stabbed the victim. Both accused are liable as co-conspirators since the act of a co-conspirator is the act of the other regardless of the precise degree of participation in the act. When the conspiracy to commit the crime of robbery is conclusively shown by the concerted acts of the accused, and homicide is committed as a consequence thereof, all those who took part as principals in the robbery would also be held liable as principals in the complex crime of robbery with homicide although they did not take part in the homicide unless it appears that they attempted to prevent the killing.

In a conspiracy, is it necessary that each accused commits each and every act constituting the offense?

For a conspiracy to be established, it is not necessary that all of the accused commit each and every act constitutive of the offense. There is conspiracy where several accused, by their acts, aimed at the same object, one performing one part and another performing another part so as to complete it with a view to the attainment of the same object, and their acts, though apparently independent, are in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments.

In misappropriation of funds, can a conviction be based on a prima facie presumption?

Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code makes clear that “failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer,” merely gives rise to a prima facie presumption “that he has put such missing finds or property to personal use.” A conviction may be founded on the presumption notwithstanding that there is no direct evidence of misappropriation, if the public officer fails to satisfactorily explain the shortage in his accounts.  But the presumption, being merely prima facie, may be rebutted and destroyed by competent proof that the accountable officer has not in truth put the funds or property in question to personal use.

Can estafa be committed through falsification of documents?

The falsification of a public document may be a means of committing estafa because before the falsified document is actually utilized to defraud another, the crime of falsification has already been consummated, damage or intent to cause damage not being an element of the crime of falsification of public, official or commercial documents. The damage to another is caused by the commission of estafa, not by the falsification of the document, hence, the falsification of the public, official or commercial document is only a necessary means to commit the estafa.

How is the crime of attempted estafa committed?

If an offender has commenced the commission of the crime of estafa but he failed to perform all the acts of execution which would produce the crime, not by reason of his own spontaneous desistance but because of his apprehension by the authorities before he could obtain the amount, he is guilty of attempted estafa.

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