GUEVARRA VS. ALMODOVAR (G.R. No. 75256)

Posted: November 7, 2013 in case digests
Tags: ,

Jurisdiction of a court in criminal cases is determined by the penalty imposable and not by the penalty imposed.

 

G.R. No. 75256          January 26, 1989

JOHN PHILIP GUEVARRA, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE IGNACIO ALMODOVAR, respondent.

FACTS:

– On October 29, 1984, the Petitioner who was then 11 years old was playing with best friend Teodoro Almine Jr. and three other children in their backyard. The children were target-shooting bottle caps placed 15 to 20 meters away with an air rifle borrowed from a neighbour.

– In the course of game, Teodoro was hit by a pellet on his left collar bone which caused his unfortunate death.

– The examining fiscal after investigation exculpated petitioner due to his age and because the unfortunate appeared to be an accident.

– Victim’s parents appealed to Ministry of Justice, who ordered fiscal to file a case against petitioner for Homicide through reckless imprudence.

– On October 25, 1985, the petitioner moved to quash the said information on the following grounds:

a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense

b) Information contains averments which if true would constitute a legal excuse or justification

c) That the Court has no jurisdiction over the offense charged and the person of defendant

– His primary argument was that the term discernment connotes intent under the exempting circumstance found under Article 12, Section 3 of the RPC. If this was true, then no minor between the age of 9 to 15 may be convicted of quasi offense under Article 265 which is criminal negligence.

– On April 4, 1986, the said motion was denied with respect to the first and third grounds relied upon decision on and part was deferred until evidence shall have been presented during trial.

– A petition for certiorari was filed.

ISSUES:

1. WHETHER AN ELEVEN (11) YEAR OLD BOY COULD BE CHARGED WITH THE CRIME OF HOMICIDE THRU RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE, AND

2. WHETHER THE COURT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT IT DID NOT PASS THRU THE BARANGAY LUPON.

HELD:

  1. Yes.

Intent and discernment are two different concepts. Intent means: a determination to do certain things; an aim; the purpose of the mind, including such knowledge as is essential to such intent. Discernment means: the mental capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong.

The second element of dolus is intelligence; without this power, necessary to determine the morality of human acts to distinguish a licit from an illicit act, no crime can exist, and because … the infant 3 (has) no intelligence, the law exempts (him) from criminal liability.

In evaluating felonies committed by means of culpa, three (3) elements are indispensable, namely, intelligence, freedom of action, and negligence. Obviously, intent is wanting in such felonies. However, intelligence remains as an essential element, hence, it is necessary that a minor above nine but below fifteen years of age be possessed with intelligence in committing a negligent act which results in a quasi-offense. For him to be criminally liable, he must discern the rightness or wrongness of the effects of his negligent act. Indeed, a minor over nine years of age but below fifteen may be held liable for a quasi-offense under Article 365 of the RPC. A reading of the said Article would reveal such fact as it starts off with the phrase “Any person. . .” without any distinction or exception made. Ubi lex non distinquit nec nos distinguere debemos.

Minors 9yrs to 15yrs are presumed to be without criminal capacity; but this presumption may be rebutted if it could be proven that they were capable of appreciating the nature and criminality of the act, that is, that (they) acted w/ discernment.

Because of this, Guevarra was not exempted.

  1. Yes.

The petitioner’s contention that he was entitled to a two-degree privileged mitigating circumstance due to his minority because of P.D. 1508. He argued that this can be applied to his case because the penalty imposable is reduced to not higher than arresto menor from an original arresto mayor maximum to prision correccional medium as prescribed in Article 365 of the RPC.

The jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the penalty imposable under the law for the offense and not the penalty ultimately imposed.

The same principle applies in construing Section 2(3) of P.D. 1508, which states:

xxx    xxx    xxx

(3) Offense punishable by imprisonment exceeding 30 day , or a fine exceeding P 200.00; … (emphasis supplied)

Expounding on the above provision, a member of the committee that drafted P.D. 1508 has said:

The law says ‘punishable,’ not ‘punished.’ One should therefore consider the penalty provided for by law or ordinance as distinguished from the penalty actually imposed in particular cases after considering the attendant circumstances affecting criminal liability. 5

The foregoing finds support in our jurisprudence as above cited. We therefore rule that, in construing Section 2(3) of P.D. 1508, the penalty which the law defining the offense attaches to the latter should be considered. Hence, any circumstance which may affect criminal liability must not be considered.

The petitioner, in his arguments, asserts that since P.D. 1508 has not been complied with, the trial court has no jurisdiction over the case. This erroneous perception has been corrected long before. As intimated in the case of Royales vs. IAC, 127 SCRA 470, and categorically stated in Ebol vs. Amin, 135 SCRA 438, P.D. 1508 is not jurisdictional.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit and the Temporary Restraining Order effective 17 September 1986 is LIFTED. Let this case be REMANDED to the lower court for trial on the merits. No cost.

Crim Pro case digest team:

– Karen P. Lustica

– Carmela Dumlao

– Arline Halina

– Daniel Erika

– Sannie Mae Paronda

– Randel Bejasa

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s