Reckless imprudence presupposes negligence or an unintentional act, and thus no malice should attend the commission of the offense.
Reckless imprudence “consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or falling to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time[,] and place.” (Ofracio v. People, G.R. No. 221981, November 04, 2020, Per Leonen, J.)
Art. 365. Imprudence and negligence.— Any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prisión correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall commit an act which would otherwise constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods; if it would have constituted a less serious felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period shall be imposed.
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the property of another, the offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the value of said damages to three (3) times such value, but which shall in no case be less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000).
A fine not exceeding Forty thousand pesos (P40,000) and censure shall be imposed upon any person, who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall cause some wrong which, if done maliciously, would have constituted a light felony.
In the imposition of these penalties, the court shall exercise their sound discretion, without regard to the rules prescribed in Article 64.
1. When the penalty provided for the offense is equal to or lower than those provided in the first two (2) paragraphs of this article, in which case the court shall impose the penalty next lower in degree than that which should be imposed in the period which they may deem proper to apply.
2. When, by imprudence or negligence and with violation of the Automobile Law, the death of a person shall be caused, in which case the defendant shall be punished by prisión correccional in its medium and maximum periods.
Reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.
Simple imprudence consists in the lack of precaution displayed in those cases in which the damage impending to be caused is not immediate nor the danger clearly manifest.
The penalty next higher in degree to those provided for in this article shall be imposed upon the offender who fails to lend on the spot to the injured parties such help as may be in his hands to give. (As amended by R.A. 10951)
(Revised Penal Code)
Structurally, these nine paragraphs are collapsible into four sub-groupings relating to (1) the penalties attached to the quasi-offenses of “imprudence” and “negligence” (paragraphs 1-2); (2) a modified penalty scheme for either or both quasi-offenses (paragraphs 3-4, 6 and 9); (3) a generic rule for trial courts in imposing penalties (paragraph 5); and (4) the definition of “reckless imprudence” and “simple imprudence” (paragraphs 7-8). Conceptually, quasi-offenses penalize “the mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the imprudencia punible,” unlike willful offenses which punish the intentional criminal act. These structural and conceptual features of quasi-offenses set them apart from the mass of intentional crimes under the first 13 Titles of Book II of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. (Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, Per Carpio, J.)
Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, Per Carpio, J.
• [T]he notion that quasi-offenses, whether reckless or simple, are distinct species of crime, separately defined and penalized under the framework of our penal laws, is nothing new. As early as the middle of the last century, we already sought to bring clarity to this field by rejecting in Quizon v. Justice of the Peace of Pampanga the proposition that “reckless imprudence is not a crime in itself but simply a way of committing it x x x” on three points of analysis: (1) the object of punishment in quasi-crimes (as opposed to intentional crimes); (2) the legislative intent to treat quasi-crimes as distinct offenses (as opposed to subsuming them under the mitigating circumstance of minimal intent) and; (3) the different penalty structures for quasi-crimes and intentional crimes:
The proposition (inferred from Art. 3 of the Revised Penal Code) that “reckless imprudence” is not a crime in itself but simply a way of committing it and merely determines a lower degree of criminal liability is too broad to deserve unqualified assent. There are crimes that by their structure cannot be committed through imprudence: murder, treason, robbery, malicious mischief, etc. In truth, criminal negligence in our Revised Penal Code is treated as a mere quasi offense, and dealt with separately from willful offenses. It is not a mere question of classification or terminology. In intentional crimes, the act itself is punished; in negligence or imprudence, what is principally penalized is the mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the imprudencia punible. x x x x
Were criminal negligence but a modality in the commission of felonies, operating only to reduce the penalty therefor, then it would be absorbed in the mitigating circumstances of Art. 13, specially the lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as the one actually committed. Furthermore, the theory would require that the corresponding penalty should be fixed in proportion to the penalty prescribed for each crime when committed willfully. For each penalty for the willful offense, there would then be a corresponding penalty for the negligent variety. But instead, our Revised Penal Code (Art. 365) fixes the penalty for reckless imprudence at arresto mayor maximum, to prision correccional [medium], if the willful act would constitute a grave felony, notwithstanding that the penalty for the latter could range all the way from prision mayor to death, according to the case. It can be seen that the actual penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to the individual willful crime, but is set in relation to a whole class, or series, of crimes. (Quizon v. Justice of the Peace Bacolor, Pampanga, G.R. No. L-6641, July 28, 1955)
• This explains why the technically correct way to allege quasi-crimes is to state that their commission results in damage, either to person or property.
• Accordingly, we found the Justice of the Peace in Quizon without jurisdiction to hear a case for “Damage to Property through Reckless Imprudence,” its jurisdiction being limited to trying charges for Malicious Mischief, an intentional crime conceptually incompatible with the element of imprudence obtaining in quasi-crimes.
The elements of the crime of reckless imprudence are:
1) That the offender does or fails to do an act;
2) That the doing or the failure to do that act is voluntary;
3) That it be without malice;
4) That material damage results from the reckless imprudence; and
5) That there is inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the offender, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition, and other circumstances regarding persons, time, and place. (Morales v. People, G.R. No. 240337, January 04, 2022, Per Carandang, J.)
[Case Law] instructs that the prosecution must show the “direct causal connection between such negligence and the injuries or damages complained of” to establish a motorist’s liability for negligence. Gonzaga likewise stressed that mere negligence is not enough to constitute reckless driving, rather, the prosecution must prove that the motorist acted in utter disregard of the consequence of his or her action, as it is the “inexcusable lack of precaution or conscious indifference to the consequences of the conduct which supplies the criminal intent and brings an act of mere negligence and imprudence under the operation of the penal law.” (Ofracio v. People, G.R. No. 221981, November 04, 2020, Per Leonen, J.)
In order to establish a motorist’s liability for the negligent operation of a vehicle, it must be shown that there was a direct causal connection between such negligence and the injuries or damages complained of. To constitute the offense of reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle – a willful and wanton disregard of the consequences is required. (Gonzaga v. People, G.R. No. 195671, January 21, 2015, Per Pelas-Bernabe J.)
Willful, wanton or reckless disregard for the safety of others within the meaning of reckless driving statutes has been held to involve a conscious choice of a course of action which injures another, either with knowledge of serious danger to others involved, or with knowledge of facts which would disclose the danger to any reasonable person. Verily, it is the inexcusable lack of precaution or conscious indifference to the consequences of the conduct which supplies the criminal intent and brings an act of mere negligence and imprudence under the operation of the penal law, without regard to whether the private offended party may himself be considered likewise at fault. (Ibid.)
Reckless imprudence contemplates negligence, and thus not intentional. Accordingly, there should be no malice; otherwise, if there was malice, logically it follows that the act was intentional and thus not resulting from negligence, which ultimately negates reckless imprudence.
Villareal v. People
G.R. Nos. 151258, 154954, 155101, 178057 and 178080, December 01, 2014
• [W]e cannot subscribe to the [Office of the Solicitor General’s] theory that even if the act complained of was born of imprudence or negligence, malicious intent can still be appreciated on account of the gravity of the actions of the accused. We emphasize that the finding of a felony committed by means of culpa is legally inconsistent with that committed by means of dolo. Culpable felonies involve those wrongs done as a result of an act performed without malice or criminal design.
• On the other hand, intentional felonies concern those wrongs in which a deliberate malicious intent to do an unlawful act is present.
• We thus reiterate that the law requires proof beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of malicious intent or dolus malus before an accused can be adjudged liable for committing an intentional felony.
• Since the accused were found to have committed a felony by means of culpa, we cannot agree with the argument of the OSG. It contends that the imposable penalty for intentional felony can also be applied to the present case on the ground that the nature of the imprudence or negligence of the accused was so gross that the felony already amounted to malice. The Revised Penal Code has carefully delineated the imposable penalties as regards felonies committed by means of culpa on the one hand and felonies committed by means of dolo on the other in the context of the distinctions it has drawn between them. The penalties provided in Article 365 (Imprudence and Negligence) are mandatorily applied if the death of a person occurs as a result of the imprudence or negligence of another. Alternatively, the penalties outlined in Articles 246 to 261 (Destruction of Life) are automatically invoked if the death was a result of the commission of a forbidden act accompanied by a malicious intent. These imposable penalties are statutory, mandatory, and not subject to the discretion of the court. We have already resolved – and the OSG agrees – that the accused Dizon and Tecson et al. had neither animus interficendi nor animus iniuriandi in inflicting physical pain on Lenny Villa. Hence, we rule that the imposable penalty is what is applicable to the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide as defined and penalized under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
Marikina Auto Line Transport Corporation v. People, G.R. No. 152040, March 31, 2006, Per Callejo, Sr., J.:
• [R]espondents failed to prove that the damages to the terrace caused by the incident amounted to P100,000.00. The only evidence adduced by respondents to prove actual damages claimed by private respondent were the summary computation of damage made by Engr. [J.R.] Regal, Jr. amounting to P171,088.46 and the receipt issued by the BB Construction and Steel Fabricator to private respondent for P35,000.00 representing cost for carpentry works, masonry, welding, and electrical works. Respondents failed to present Regal to testify on his estimation. In its five-page decision, the trial court awarded P150,000.00 as actual damages to private respondent but failed to state the factual basis for such award. Indeed, the trial court merely declared in the decretal portion of its decision that the “sum of P150,000.00 as reasonable compensation sustained by plaintiff for her damaged apartment.” The appellate court, for its part, failed to explain how it arrived at the amount of P100,000.00 in its three-page decision…
• The burden of proof is on the party who would be defeated if no evidence would be presented on either side. The burden is to establish one’s case by a preponderance of evidence which means that the evidence, as a whole, adduced by one side, is superior to that of the other. Actual damages are not presumed. The claimant must prove the actual amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence obtainable. Specific facts that could afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are borne must be pointed out. Actual damages cannot be anchored on mere surmises, speculations or conjectures…
• While claimants’ bare testimonial assertions in support of their claims for damages should not be discarded altogether, however, the same should be admitted with extreme caution. Their testimonies should be viewed in light of claimants’ self-interest, hence, should not be taken as gospel truth. Such assertion should be buttressed by independent evidence…
• We note, however, that petitioners adduced evidence that, in their view, the cost of the damage to the terrace of private respondent would amount to P55,000.00. Accordingly, private respondent is entitled to P55,000.00 actual damages.
In negligence or imprudence, what is principally penalized is the mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the imprudencia punible. Among the elements constitutive of the offense of reckless imprudence, what perhaps is most central to a finding of guilt is the conclusive determination that the accused has exhibited, by his voluntary act without malice, an inexcusable lack of precaution because it is that which supplies the criminal intent so indispensable as to bring an act of mere negligence and imprudence under the operation of the penal law. A conscious indifference to the consequences of the conduct is all that is required from the standpoint of the frame of mind of the accused. (Nacino v. Ombudsman, En Banc, G.R. Nos. 234789-91, September 03, 2019, Per Jardeleza, J.)
Valencia v. People, G.R. No. 235573, November 09, 2020, Per Leonen, J.:
• Here, both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals found petitioner liable for reckless imprudence resulting to homicide, even if the prosecution failed to present substantial testimony of petitioner’s negligent or imprudent act, which led to Jaquilmo’s death.
• Two (2) prosecution witnesses testified that they heard a thud, felt the jeepney tilt, and saw a man lying flat on the ground; thus, they concluded that the jeepney petitioner was driving hit the man. Another prosecution witness testified to hearing a loud thud and then hearing some passengers inside a jeepney shout that someone got hit. The same witness also testified that he saw a man lying on the ground near the jeepney.
• No one testified as to the manner by which petitioner was driving before he supposedly hit Jaquilmo, or of personally witnessing the jeepney hit Jaquilmo.
• The Regional Trial Court surmised that because of the early hour, petitioner was probably not yet fully alert when he drove the jeepney; thus, he failed to notice Jaquilmo cross the street…
• The Court of Appeals likewise concluded that petitioner must have been driving “at a high speed” because prosecution witnesses felt the jeepney tilt and thud before they spotted the victim lying on the road…
• The prosecution was able to prove that Jaquilmo died on the bridge, but it failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner’s imprudence in driving the jeepney was the proximate cause of his death.
• Here, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner’s inexcusable lack of precaution in driving the jeepney was the proximate cause of Jaquilmo’s death. In fact, the lower courts had diverging opinions on petitioner’s imprudent act, with the Regional Trial Court stating that petitioner was probably sleepy when he drove the jeepney, and the Court of Appeals concluding that petitioner was driving the jeepney too fast.
• With the prosecution’s failure to prove all the elements of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide beyond reasonable doubt, and an eyewitness testimony corroborating petitioner’s assertion that he did not run over Jaquilmo, petitioner must consequently be acquitted of the charge against him.
[P]rosecutions under Article 365 should proceed from a single charge regardless of the number or severity of the consequences. In imposing penalties, the judge will do no more than apply the penalties under Article 365 for each consequence alleged and proven. In short, there shall be no splitting of charges under Article 365, and only one information shall be filed in the same first level court. (Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, Per Carpio, J.)
The doctrine that reckless imprudence under Article 365 is a single quasi-offense by itself and not merely a means to commit other crimes such that conviction or acquittal of such quasi-offense bars subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense, regardless of its various resulting acts, undergirded this Court’s unbroken chain of jurisprudence on double jeopardy as applied to Article 365 starting with People v. Diaz, decided in 1954. There, a full Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Montemayor, ordered the dismissal of a case for “damage to property thru reckless imprudence” because a prior case against the same accused for “reckless driving,” arising from the same act upon which the first prosecution was based, had been dismissed earlier. Since then, whenever the same legal question was brought before the Court, that is, whether prior conviction or acquittal of reckless imprudence bars subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense, regardless of the consequences alleged for both charges, the Court unfailingly and consistently answered in the affirmative… (Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, Per Carpio, J.)
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the quasi offense of criminal negligence under article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done, would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of the offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person or several persons, the offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be split into different crimes and prosecutions. (G.R. No. L-25366 March 29, 1968, Per JBL Reyes, J.)
Morales v. People, G.R. No. 240337, January 04, 2022, Per Carandang, J.:
• The penalties provided in Article 365 are clear and straightforward except for its third paragraph, in instances where the imprudent or negligent act resulted not only to damage to property but also to physical injuries. The third paragraph provides that when an imprudent or negligent act resulted in damage to property only, the offender shall be punished by a fine. The question that arises is whether the third paragraph still applies when there is also damage to persons. We answered in the affirmative in the 1954 case of Angeles v. Jose (Angeles). There, We ruled that the third paragraph applies to the resulting damage to property, and an additional penalty shall be imposed on the resulting injury to person. The “additional penalty” pertains to the penalty scheme under Article 365.
• In Angeles, the accused was charged before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of the crime of damage to property in the sum of P654.22 with less serious physical injuries through reckless negligence. The CFI dismissed the case upon motion of the defense on the ground that the penalty prescribed by Article 365 is only arresto mayor in its minimum and medium period, which falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the municipal court. However, the prosecution argued that the CFI has jurisdiction because the fine that may be imposed on account of the damage to property is a sum equal to the amount of damage to three times such amount, which in no case shall be less than P25.00. We reversed the CFI and remanded the case for further proceedings. In effect, We held that the CFI has jurisdiction because the fine for the damage to property should be considered in determining jurisdiction. We also interpreted the third paragraph of Article 365 in this manner:
The respondent court, however, relies on the wording of the third paragraph of said article, which reads as follows:
“When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the property of another, the offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the value of said damage to three times such value, but which shall in no case be less than 25 pesos.”
The above-quoted provision simply means that if there is only damage to property the amount fixed therein shall be imposed, but if there are also physical injuries there should be an additional penalty for the latter. The information cannot be split into two; one for the physical injuries, and another for the damage to property, for both the injuries and the damage committed were caused by one single act of the defendant and constitute what may be called a complex crime of physical injuries and damage to property. It is clear that the fine fixed by law in this case is beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal court and within that of the court of first instance. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
• Simply put, if the imprudent or negligent act covered by Article 365 results to both damage to property and persons, a fine shall be imposed for the former and an additional penalty based on the penalty scheme of Article 365 shall be meted for the latter. The information cannot also be split into two – one for physical injuries and another for damage to property.
• Nevertheless, in the 1998 case of Reodica v. Court of Appeals, which involved an Information for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property with slight physical injuries, We held that the third paragraph of Article 365 does not apply since the reckless imprudence did not result in damage to property only. What applies is the first paragraph of Article 365 which provides for arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods for an act committed through reckless imprudence which, had it been intentional, would have constituted a less grave felony.
• Significantly, in Ivler, We went back to Our pronouncement in Angeles that the third paragraph of Article 365 applies even if the imprudent or negligent act resulted not only in damage to property but also in damage to persons, in which case an additional penalty for the latter shall be imposed aside from a fine.
• Interestingly, We did not apply this in Gonzaga where despite a finding that the accused was guilty of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide with serious physical injuries and damage to property, no separate fine was imposed for damage to property. The same goes for Senit where the accused was convicted of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple serious physical injuries and damage to property. There was no fine imposed for the resulting damage to property. In both these cases, the imprudent acts and their consequences were treated as complex crimes.
• Meanwhile, there is a seeming flaw in Angeles that We need to address. Angeles teaches that an “additional penalty” should be imposed when the negligent or imprudent act resulted not only in damage to property but also to physical injuries. Only one information shall be filed for both the injuries and the damages. The reasoning stated in Angeles is because “the injuries and damage committed were caused by one single act of the defendant and constitute what may be called a complex crime of physical injuries and damage to property.” Hence, on its face, Angeles is among the case law which applied Article 48 of the RPC to quasi-crimes. Ivler, by citing Angeles, seems to affirm a case which allows the “complexing” of quasi-crimes. We now clarify Our ruling in Angeles.
• The crux of the controversy in Angeles is the interpretation of the third paragraph of Article 365 in relation to determining the jurisdiction of courts. We ruled that the fine for damage to property and the additional penalty for damage to persons should both be considered in ascertaining which court has jurisdiction over the quasi-offense. While We referred to the “complex crime of physical injuries and damage to property,” Our declaration that an additional penalty should be imposed for the resulting physical injuries defies or disregards the sentencing formula under Article 48 for complex crimes, which is the imposition of only one penalty – the penalty for the most serious crime, the same to be applied in its maximum period. Thus, the contradiction in Angeles seems to be more apparent than real. Angeles, in prescribing an additional penalty for the resulting damage to persons, does not, in essence, allow the “complexing” of the resulting acts of a single quasi-crime.
• In fine, the Angeles and Ivler interpretation of the third paragraph of Article 365 conform/dovetail with the second approach that quasi-crimes should be prosecuted in one charge, regardless of their number and severity, and each consequence should be penalized separately. We applied this interpretation in the recent case of Esteban.
Gonzaga v. People, G.R. No. 195671, January 21, 2015, Per Pelas-Bernabe, J.:
• [W]hile the CA and the RTC concurred that the proximate cause of the collision was Rogelio’s reckless driving, the CA Decision made no mention as to the presence or absence of the limiting element in the last paragraph of Article 365 of the RPC, which imposes the penalty next higher in degree upon the offender who “fails to lend on the spot to the injured parties such help as may be in his hands to give.” Based on case law, the obligation under this paragraph: (a) is dependent on the means in the hands of the offender, i.e., the type and degree of assistance that he/she, at the time and place of the incident, is capable of giving; and (b) requires adequate proof.
• It is well to point out that the RTC’s July 31, 2006Decision found that Rogelio failed to offer any help to the victims and, thus, imposed on him the penalty next higher in degree. However, upon Rogelio’s motion, the RTC reconsidered its earlier conclusion, holding that the jack handle that was used to get the body of Dionesio, Sr. beneath the Land Cruiser could have been his in the absence of showing who owned the same and, accordingly, reduced the penalty. Nothing was said on this point by the CA which affirmed Rogelio’s conviction based on the RTC’s July 31, 2006 Decision.
• The Court has perused the records and found contradictory testimonies presented by the prosecution and the defense on this matter. Considering however, that Cherry herself admitted that the victims were first loaded on the Land Cruiser before they were transferred to Kgd. Dadivas’s vehicle, the Court is inclined to sustain Rogelio’s claim that he tried to extend help to the victims, but when he started the engine with the intention to go to the hospital, he discovered that the vehicle had no brakes. Hence, in imposing the proper penalty on the accused, the qualifying circumstance under the last paragraph of Article 365of the RPC should not be considered.
• Here, Rogelio was charged with the offense of Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Homicide with Double Serious Physical Injuries and Damage to Property under Article 365 in relation to Article 263 of the RPC, a complex crime. Article 48 of the RPC provides that when 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, in this case, Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Homicide, shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period.
Morales v. People, G.R. No. 240337, January 04, 2022, Per Carandang, J.:
• Forbidding the application of Article 48 of the RPC to quasi-offenses and their resultant acts/effects preserves the conceptual distinction between quasi-crimes and intentional felonies under the RPC. We thus declare that De los Santos is abandoned. We agree with Our pronouncements in Ivler. Article 48 does not apply to quasi-offenses under Article 365 because reckless imprudence is a distinct crime and not a mere way of committing a crime. Simple or reckless imprudence does not strictly fall under the term “felonies” or acts or omissions committed by fault or culpa.
• Applying what We had discussed in the present case, We find that the offense charged against petitioner was properly designated as reckless imprudence resulting to multiple physical injuries and damage to property. The Information was also correctly filed before the MTCC.
/Updated: April 29, 2023