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Exempting circumstances, A12 Revised Penal Code

Exempting circumstances – refers to circumstances exempting individuals who committed and offense from criminal liability.

1. Concept

Exempting circumstances – refers to circumstances exempting individuals who committed and offense from criminal liability.

a. Legal basis

Article 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability. – the following are exempt from criminal liability:
1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval.
When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito), the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted, which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court.
2. A person under nine years of age.
3. A person over nine years of age and under fifteen, unless he has acted with discernment, in which case, such minor shall be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Art. 80 of this Code.
When such minor is adjudged to be criminally irresponsible, the court, in conformably with the provisions of this and the preceding paragraph, shall commit him to the care and custody of his family who shall be charged with his surveillance and education otherwise, he shall be committed to the care of some institution or person mentioned in said Art. 80.
4. Any person who, while performing a lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere accident without fault or intention of causing it.
5. Any person who act under the compulsion of irresistible force.
6. Any person who acts under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury.
7. Any person who fails to perform an act required by law, when prevented by some lawful insuperable cause.

(Revised Penal Code)

b. Effects of justifying circumstances

1) Admission by the accused

An accused who pleads a justifying circumstance under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code admits to the commission of acts, which would otherwise engender criminal liability. However, he asserts that he is justified in committing the acts. In the process of proving a justifying circumstance, the accused risks admitting the imputed acts, which may justify the existence of an offense were it not for the exculpating facts. Conviction follows if the evidence for the accused fails to prove the existence of justifying circumstances. (Velasquez v. People, G.R. No. 195021, March 15, 2017, Per Leonen, J.)

2) Burden shifts to accused

[W]hen an accused admits killing the victim but invokes self-defense to escape criminal liability, the accused assumes the burden to establish his plea by credible, clear and convincing evidence; otherwise, conviction would follow from his admission that he killed the victim. (Belbis, Jr. v. Brucales, G.R. No. 181052, November 14, 2012, Per Peralta, J.)

The accused’s admission enables the prosecution to dispense with discharging its burden of proving that the accused performed acts, which would otherwise be the basis of criminal liability. All that remains to be established is whether the accused were justified in acting as he or she did. To this end, the accused’s case must rise on its own merits. (Velasquez v. People, supra.)

c. What are the exempting circumstances

The following are exempting circumstances:

1) Imbecile or an insane person;

2) Minor under 15 years of age (as amended by Section 6, R.A. 9344);

3) Minor above 15 years but below 18 years of age, unless acted with discernment (as amended by Section 6, R.A. 9344);

4) Person causing an injury by mere accident without fault or intention of causing it;

5) Person acting under the compulsion of irresistible force;

6) Person acting under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury; and

7) Person failing to perform an act required by law, when prevented by some lawful insuperable cause.

References

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

/Updated: August 26, 2023

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