Abuse of confidence, A14(4) Revised Penal Code

1. Concept

Abuse of confidence, as an aggravating circumstance under the Revised Penal Code – refers to the circumstance when the offender commits the crime by abusing the trust and confidence response on the offender.

a. Legal basis

Article 14. Aggravating circumstances. – The following are aggravating circumstances:
4. That the act be committed with abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness.

(Revised Penal Code)

2. Abuse of confidence

For the aggravating circumstance of abuse of confidence, the offender commits the crime by abusing the trust and confidence response on the offender.

For [the circumstance of abuse of confidence] to be taken and appreciated, it is that there exists a relation of trust and confidence between the accused and the one against whom the crime was committed and the accused made use of such relation to commit the crime. (People vs. Comendador, En Banc, G.R. No. L-38000, September 1980, Per Guerrero, J.)

a. Requisites

Requisites for abuse of confidence:

1) Relationship of trust and confidence; and

2) Such relationship is immediate and personal.

1) Trust and confidence

a) Treated as family member

People v. Verdad, En Banc, G.R. No. L-51797, May 16, 1983, Per Melencio-Herrera, J.:

• The aggravating circumstance of abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness… [was] properly appreciated by the Trial Court. The accused was treated like a member of the family and was completely trusted. That confidence facilitated the commission of the offense [robbery with homicide]. The circumstance of abuse of superior strength is likewise present.

b) Domestic servant

People v. Lora, En Banc, G.R. No. L-49430, March 30, 1982, Per Curiam:

• [The case involved kidnapping with homicide of a 3-year old child by a housemaid.] There was also abuse of confidence because the victim was entrusted to the care of the appellant [the maid]. The appellant’s main duty in the household is to take care of the minor child. There existed a relation of trust and confidence between the appellant and the one against whom the crime was committed and the appellant made use of such relation to commit the crime.

People v. Caliso, En Banc, G.R. No. 37271, July 1, 1933, Per Abad Santos, J.:

• [In a crime of murder,] the aggravating circumstance of grave abuse of confidence was present since the appellant was the domestic servant of the family and was sometimes the deceased child’s amah.

People v. Develos, En Banc, G.R. No. L-18866, January 31, 1966, Per Regala, J.:

• [There was a finding of abuse of confidence.] The appellant, in confessing his guilt before the police officers, stated that while employed as a houseboy by the victim he lived and ate with him in his store; that after his co-accused Aldea suddenly and without warning struck the victim from behind, as he was massaging him with rubbing alcohol, while the victim was about to rise, the appellant strangulated him with a rope; that after killing the victim, the appellant ransacked the store for money while his co-accused watched him but when he failed to find any he took some cigarettes and the clothes belonging to the victim; that while he was looking for money, Aldea set the victim on fire which accounts for the burns on the arms, chest and abdomen; that when he returned to the place where the body was, he found it covered with a sack; that after killing and robbing the victim they stayed in the kitchen until 4 o’clock in the morning of the next day and took a bus bound for Dingle to hide in the house of his aunt. The foregoing testimony was affirmed by Santiago Aldea, Jr., the appellant’s co-accused.

c) House guest

People v. Ponciano, G.R. No. 86453, December 5, 1991, Per Guttierez, J.

The aggravating circumstances of dwelling and abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness are appreciated in the killing of Ricardo Rivera. Ricardo Rivera was killed in his own home… by [the Accused] who was a guest of the deceased.

2) Immediate and personal

People vs. Comendador, En Banc, G.R. No. L-38000, September 1980, Per Guerrero, J.:

• As to the aggravating circumstance of abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness based on the allegation that “he was given food and shelter by the father of the victim, aside from his salary as a farm laborer and was also treated by the victim for being their farm laborer,” the contention of the accused-appellant that such aggravating circumstance should not be considered against is meritorious… Inasmuch as the relation of trust and confidence that exists in this case is between the accused-appellant and the father of the deceased, and that the deceased was then residing apart from his father as he was working in Zamboanga City, there is no [such] personal relationship between accused appellant and the deceased[.] Hence, abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness is not warranted or justified under the premises.

• It is also essential that the confidence between the parties must be immediate and personal such as would give that accused some advantage or make it easier for him to commit the crime; that such confidence was a means of facilitating the commission of the crime, the culprit taking advantage of the offended party’s belief that the former would not abuse said confidence.

People v. Bello, En Banc, G.R. No. L-18792, February 28, 1964, Per Reyes, J.B.L., J.:

• The record bears out, the Office of the Solicitor General does not challenge, and the counsel de oficio agree with, and adopts, the following findings of fact of the trial court:

From the evidence adduced at the hearing of the case, it has been established to the satisfaction of the Court (1) that on September 17, 1954, the accused Guillermo Bello, a widower who at that time was about 54 years of age, took a young peasant lady named Alicia Cervantes, about 24 years old his common-law wife; (2) that from that day they lived together apparently in blissful harmony as man and wife without the benefit of marriage bearing, however, no child, …; (3) that on May 15, 1958, the accused who had no means of substantial livelihood except that of making “kaingin” and who apparently was then in financial straits induced Alicia Cervantes to accept an employment as entertainer in a bar and restaurant establishment known as Maring’s Place situated the corner of Aguinaldo and Bonifacio Streets, Gumaca, Quezon (4) that Alicia Cervantes entered the service of Maring’s Place on that day as a public hostess; (5) that the accused being infatuated with his young bride used to watch her movements in Maring’s Place everyday; (6) that on May 16 he saw Alicia enter the Gumaca theater in Gumaca with a man whom the accused found later was caressing his common-law wife inside the movie house; (7) that being in love with her he took her out from the movie and warned her to be more discreet in her personal conduct in Gumaca; (8) that Alicia Cervantes continued to serve at Maring’s Place as a public hostess; (9) that on May 20, 1958, at 3:00 p.m. the accused went to Maring’s Place to ask for some money from Alicia; (10) that Maring, the owner of the place, and Alicia refused to give money, Maring telling him to forget Alicia completely because he was already an old man, an invalid besides and should stop bothering Alicia; (11) that having failed to obtain financial assistance from his paramour, accused left the place somewhat despondent and went home passing Bonifacio Street; (12) that on his way home he met the brothers Justo Marasigan and Luis Marasigan who greeted the accused, Luis saying to his brother Justo the following: “So this is the man whose wife is being used by Maring for white slave trade”; (13) that these remarks of Luis Marasigan naturally brought grief to the accused, to drown which he sought Paty’s place in Gumaca where he drank 5 glasses of tuba; (14) that from Paty’s place he went to Realistic Studio which is in front of Maring’s Place and from there watched the movements of Alicia; (15) that at about 9:00 o’clock that night he entered Maring’s Place and without much ado held Alicia from behind with his left hand in the manner of a boa strangulating its prey and with his right hand stabbed Alicia several times with a balisong; (16) that seeing Alicia fallen on the ground and believing her to be mortally wounded, he fled and went to the municipal building and there surrendered himself to the police of Gumaca.

• We can not understand how the trial court came to couple the crime with the aggravating circumstance of abuse of confidence and obvious ungratefulness. There is nothing to show that the assailant and his common-law wife reposed in one another any special confidence that could be abused, or any gratitude owed by one to the other that ought to be respected, and which would bear any relation, or connection, with the crime committed. None is inferable from the fact that the accused was much older than his victim, or that he was penniless while she was able to earn a living and occasionally gave him money, since both lived together as husband and wife. Neither is it shown that the accused took advantage of any such special confidence in order to carry out the crime.

• [NB: The Accused was held liable for homicide due to lack any attendant circumstance to qualify the killing to murder.]

People v. Mandolado, En Banc, G.R. No. L-51304-05, June 28, 1983, Per Guerrero, J.:

• There is also merit in appellants’ contention that there could be no abuse of confidence as the evidence on record showed the lack of confidence by the victims to the appellants, that this confidence was abused, and that the abuse of the confidence facilitated the commission of the crimes… In the instant case, there is absolutely no showing of any personal or immediate relationship upon which confidence might rest between the victims and the assailants who had just met each other then. Consequently, no confidence and abuse thereof could have facilitated the crimes.


Title I – Felonies and Circumstances which Affect Criminal Liability, Book I, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

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