Persons liable and degree of participation – Criminal Law

1. Principals, accomplices, and accessories

a. Criminal liability depending on penalty

GRAVE AND LESS GRAVE FELONIES: The following are criminally liable for grave and less grave felonies:

1) Principals.

2) Accomplices.

3) Accessories.

LIGHT FELONIES: The following are criminally liable for light felonies:

1) Principals

2) Accomplices. (Article 16, Ibid.)

2) Persons liable

PRINCIPALS: The following are considered principals:

1) Those who take a direct part in the execution of the act;

2) Those who directly force or induce others to commit it;

3) Those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been accomplished. (Article 17, Ibid.)

ACCOMPLICES: Accomplices are those persons who, not being included in Article 17, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts. (Article 18, Ibid.)

ACCESSORIES: 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 in any of the following manners:

1) By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.

2) By concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery.

3) By harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principals of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of the crime is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime. (Article 19, Ibid.)

ACCESSORIES WHO ARE EXEMPT FROM CRIMINAL LIABILITY: The penalties prescribed for accessories shall not be imposed upon those who are such with respect to their spouses, ascendants, descendants, legitimate, natural, and adopted brothers and sisters, or relatives by affinity within the same degrees, with the single exception of accessories falling within the provisions of paragraph 1 of the next preceding article. (Article 20, Ibid.)

2. Conspiracy and proposal

CONSPIRACY: A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. (Paragraph 2, Article 8, Ibid.)

PROPOSAL: There is proposal when the person who has decided to commit a felony proposes its execution to some other person or persons. (Paragraph 3, Article 8, Ibid.)

Conspiracy and proposal to commit felony are punishable only in the cases in which the law specially provides a penalty therefor. (Article 8, Ibid.)

3. Multiple offenders

a. Recidivism

A recidivist is one who, at the time of his trial for one crime, shall have been previously convicted by final judgment of another crime embraced in the same title of this Code. (Paragraph 2, Article 14[9], Ibid.)

AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE: That the accused is a recidivist is an aggravating circumstance. (Paragraph 14[9], Article 14, Ibid.)

b. Habituality

Habituality or reiteration (reiteracion) – is an aggravating circumstance, which is committed when the offender has been previously punished for an offense to which the law attaches at an equal or greater penalty or for two or more crimes to which it attaches a lighter penalty. (People v. Bernal, En Banc, G.R. No. L-44988, 31 October 1936, citing Article 14[10], Ibid.)

AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE: That the offender has been previously punished by an offense to which the law attaches an equal or greater penalty or for two or more crimes to which it attaches a lighter penalty, is an aggravating circumstance. (Article 14[10], Ibid.)

c. Quasi-recidivism

Besides the provisions of Rule 5 of Article 62 [referring to habitual delinquency], any person who shall commit a felony after having been convicted by final judgment, before beginning to serve such sentence, or while serving the same, shall be punished by the maximum period of the penalty prescribed by law for the new felony. (Article 160, Ibid.)

SPECIAL AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE: The special aggravating circumstance of quasi-recidivism (Art. 160, Rev. Penal Code) is applied when the offenders, at the time of the commission of the offense, were serving their sentences for previous convictions. (People v. Layson, En Banc, G.R. No. L-25177, 31 October 1969)

SAME: CANNOT BE OFFSET BY MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE: Quasi-recidivism is a special aggravating circumstance which cannot be offset by any mitigating circumstance. (People v. Retania, En Banc, G.R. No. L-34841, 22 January 1980)

PURPOSE: Quasi-recidivism has for its effect the punishment of the accused with the maximum period of the penalty prescribed by law for the new felony, and cannot be offset by an ordinary mitigating circumstance. (Ibid.)

1) Pardoned at age of 70

Any convict of the class referred to in this article, who is not a habitual criminal, shall be pardoned at the age of seventy years if he shall have already served out his original sentence, or when he shall complete it after reaching the said age, unless by reason of his conduct or other circumstances he shall not be worthy of such clemency. (Paragrpah 2, Article 160, Ibid.)

d. Habitual delinquency

HABITUAL DELINQUENT: A person shall be deemed to be habitual delinquent, if within a period of ten years from the date of his release or last conviction of the crimes of serious or less serious physical injuries, robo, hurto, estafa or falsification, he is found guilty of any of said crimes a third time or oftener. (Paragraph 2, Article 62, Ibid.)

SAME: NECESSARILY A RECIDIVIST: A habitual delinquent is necessarily a recidivist, and in imposing the principal penalty upon him the aggravating circumstance of recidivism has to be taken into account. In fixing the penalty provided by law for the last crime as required in paragraph 5 (a) (b), and (c) of article 62 of the Revised Penal Code, the court cannot disregard articles 14 (9) and Revised Penal Code, which respectively define recidivism as an aggravating circumstance and lay down the rule for the application of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. However, for the purpose of fixing the additional penalty, recidivism cannot be taken as an aggravating circumstance for the reason it is inherent in habitual delinquency. (People v. Tolentino, En Banc, G.R. No. L-48740, 05 August 1942)


⦁ Book I, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

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