Philippine Criminal Law
Philippine Criminal Laws is the body of laws defining crimes and defining the penalties thereof in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...



The Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 was a colony of Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 for more than 300 years, beginning in 1565 until 1898. Because of this, many fields of law in the Philippines such as Civil Law
Civil law (common law)
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...

 and Criminal Law
Criminal law
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...

 follow a civil law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 tradition, as opposed to Commercial Law
Commercial law
Commercial law is the body of law that governs business and commercial transactions...

 and Constitutional Law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

 which follow a common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...


When the Spanish Colonizers
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 conquered the Philippines, the Spanish Codigo Penal was made applicable and extended to the Philippines by Royal Decree of 1870. This was replaced with the old Penal Code which was put in place by Spanish authorities, and took effect in the Philippines on July 14, 1876. This law was effective in the Philippines until the American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 colonization of the Philippines. It was only on December 8, 1930, when it was amended, under Act. No. 3815, with the enactment of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines. First enacted in 1930, it remains in effect today, despite several amendments thereto. It does not comprise a comprehensive compendium of all Philippine penal laws. The Revised Penal Code itself was enacted as Act No...

 (the “Revised Penal Code”).

The Revised Penal Code

The Revised Penal Code took effect on January 1, 1932. It is composed of two parts – Book One of the Revised Penal Code provides the general provisions on the application of the law, and the general principles of criminal law. It defines felonies and circumstances which affect criminal liability, justifying circumstances and circumstances which exempt, mitigate or aggravate criminal liability, and defines the classification, duration, and effects of criminal penalties. Finally, it provides for the extinction and survival of criminal and civil liabilities in crimes.

Book Two of the Revised Penal Code on the other hand defines the specific crimes and the penalties imposable for each crime. Crimes are classified into crimes against national security (such as treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

 and piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

), crimes against the fundamental laws of the state (rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

, coup d’etat, sedition
In law, sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that is deemed by the legal authority to tend toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent to lawful authority. Sedition may include any...

 and public disorders), crimes against public interest (counterfeiting of currency, falsification of public documents), crimes against public morals, crimes committed by public officers, crimes against persons (parricide
Parricide is defined as:*the act of murdering one's father , mother or other close relative, but usually not children ....

, murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, physical injuries, rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

), crimes against security (kidnapping), and crimes against property (robbery, theft), among others. Criminal negligence is also an offense under the Revised Penal Code. Under the Revised Penal Code, acts and omissions punishable by law are called felonies. Thus, to be considered as a felony there must be an act or omission.

Degree of Consummation of Crimes

Felonies can be consummated, frustrated, and attempted. A felony is consummated when all the elements necessary for its execution and accomplishment are present. It is frustrated when the offender performs all the acts of execution which would produce the felony as a consequence but which, nevertheless, do not produce it by reason of causes independent of the will of the perpetrator. There is an attempt when the offender commences the commission of a felony directly or over acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than this own spontaneous desistance.

Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy can also be proven based on the idea of "unity of purpose" and acts leading to a common design. There is proposal when the person who has decided to commit a felony proposes its execution to some other person or persons. Conspiracy and proposal to commit a felony are generally not punishable, except for conspiracy and proposal to commit treason, coup d’etat, and rebellion. Whilst not generally punishable, conspiracy can determine the degree of participation in criminal offenses in order to determine criminal liability.

Circumstances that Affect Criminal Liability

The presence of certain circumstances have the effect of removing, mitigating or aggravating criminal liability of persons. Persons who commit crimes when justifying circumstances are present do not incur criminal or civil liability. Acting in self-defense is one of these justifying circumstances.

The presence of exempting circumstances on the other hand will exempt the perpetrator from criminal liability but not from civil liability. Some of these exempting circumstances are imbecility or youth. On the other hand, the presence of one or more mitigating circumstances when a crime is committed, can serve to reduce the penalty imposed. An example is voluntary surrender.

Lastly, the presence of aggravating circumstances will increase the penalty imposed under the crime, upon conviction. Some examples are contempt or insult to public authority.

Participation in Crimes

Under the Revised Penal Code, when more than one person participated in the commission of the crime, the law looks into their participation because in punishing offenders, the Revised Penal Code classifies them as principals
Principal (criminal law)
Under criminal law, a principal is any actor who is primarily responsible for a criminal offense. Such an actor is distinguished from others who may also be subject to criminal liability as accomplices, accessories or conspirators....

, accomplice
At law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offense. For example, in a bank robbery, the person who points the gun at the teller and asks for the money is guilty of armed robbery...

s, or accessories
Accessory (legal term)
An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal...

. A persons can be liable as a principal for (a) taking a direct part in the execution of the felony, (b) directly forcing or inducing others to commit it, or (c) cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been accomplished. Accomplices are persons who, while not acting as a principal, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts.

Lastly, accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its commission by: (a) profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

 by the effects of the crime, (b) concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery, or (c) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principals of the crime.

Principals are punished more severely than accomplices, who are punished more severely than accessories. However, when there is conspiracy, there will no longer be a distinction as to whether a person acted as a principal, accomplice or accessory, because when there is conspiracy, the criminal liability of all will be the same, because the act of one is the act of all.

Special Penal Laws

Apart from the crimes penalized in the Revised Penal Code, several other pieces of criminal legislation have been passed, penalizing acts such as illegal possession and trafficking of dangerous drugs
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows are an American post-hardcore band formed in 2010. They released their debut self-titled album on February 22, 2011.- Formation :...

, money laundering
Money laundering
Money laundering is the process of disguising illegal sources of money so that it looks like it came from legal sources. The methods by which money may be laundered are varied and can range in sophistication. Many regulatory and governmental authorities quote estimates each year for the amount...

, and illegal possession of firearms. These laws are called “Special Penal Laws” and they form part of Philippine Criminal Laws. There are certain differences between crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws.

Violations of the crimes listed in the Revised Penal Code are referred to as mala in se, which literally means, that the act is inherently evil or bad or wrongful in itself. On the other hand, violations of Special Penal Laws are generally referred to as malum prohibitum or an act that is wrong because it is prohibited. Thus, no criminal intent is needed in order to find a person liable for crimes punished under Special Penal Laws. As long as the act is committed, then it is punishable as a crime under law.

Note, however, that not all violations of Special Penal Laws are mala prohibita. While intentional felonies are always mala in se, it does not follow that prohibited acts done in violation of special laws are always mala prohibita.

There are some important distinctions between crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and Special Penal Laws. One of them is that in crimes punished under the Revised Penal Code, the moral trait of the offender is considered. This is why liability would only arise when there is criminal intent or negligence in the commission of the punishable act. In crimes punished under Special Penal Laws, the moral trait of the offender is not considered; it is enough that the prohibited act was voluntarily done.
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