BATASnatin LIVE Free Legal Advice

BATASnatin Live! Visit our YouTube channel for more details!



I. Who Are Criminally Liable

A. For Grave and Less Grave Felonies they are the principals, accomplices and accessories. For light felonies they are the principals and accomplices only. Accessories are not liable.

B. The classification into principals, accomplices and accessories is based on the Degree of Participation in the commission of a crime where at least two persons participated.

1. This classification does not apply to violations of special laws where the violators are referred to plainly as offenders, violators, culprits or criminals.

2. The classification into the three major classes does not apply if the several offenders acted in conspiracy as all will be considered as principals.

3. The purposes of the classification is to determine the proper penalty to be imposed upon the accused. This is one of the factors in determining the proper penalty to be actually imposed.  

II. Principles of Criminal Liability

A. To be guilty of a crime, one must commit the crime himself (principal) or if committed by another, he must, in some manner, participate either in its commission ( accomplice) or in the fruits  thereof ( accessory).

B. As a rule only natural persons who are alive can beheld criminally liable. The reasons are: (i) The element of mens rea can only be found in natural persons: malice in intentional felonies and indifference in culpable felonies are attributes of natural persons (ii)  juridical persons cannot be arrested (iii) the principal penalties  consisting of deprivation of life or of  liberty, restriction of liberty, deprivation of rights, and the accessory penalties of disqualification, cannot be served by juridical persons.

C. When may a juridical entity be held criminally liable? A juridical entity may be prosecuted and held liable if the offense is punishable by a fine.

D. For what acts may a juridical person be held liable?

1. For acts committed by its responsible officers, policy makers or those having charge of the management and operation of the entity.

2. A corporation also incurs criminal liability for the acts of its employees or agents if (i) the employee or agent committed the offense while acting within the scope of his employment and (ii) the offense was committed with at least an intent to benefit the employer ( PP. vs. Chowderry, 235 SCRA 572)

E. Who are liable if the violation was made by a juridical entity? Per Ching vs. Secretary of Justice ( Feb. 06, 2006) the principles maybe summarized as follows

1. The juridical entity itself where the penalty is one which can properly be imposed on it, such as fine or revocation of license

2. The officers, employees or agents who actually executed the prohibited act or incurred the omission

Example: LLamado vs. CA ( 270 SCRA 423) it was held that even if the officer of the corporation had no involvement in the negotiation of the transaction for which he, as treasurer of the corporation, issued a postdated check which bounced, he is liable for Violation of B.P. 22

3. The person specifically mentioned by law violated to be held liable. Examples:

a). Section 8 of R.A. 8042  (Migrant and Overseas Filipino Act of  l995) provides: “In cases of juridical persons the offices having control, management, and direction of their business shall be held liable”

b). P.D. 1612 (Anti Gambling Law) provides that the President shall be liable if gambling is carried on by a juridical entity

c). In case of libel under Art. 360 the persons liable shall be the editor of a book or pamphlet, business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial publication  

4. a). An employee or officer even if not among those enumerated by the law violated, if, with knowledge of the illegal act/business, he consciously contributes his efforts to its conduct or promotion ( PP. vs. Chowderry)

b). The culpability of the employee hinges… on his knowledge of the offense and his active participation on its commission. Where it is shown that the employee was merely acting under the direction of his superiors and was unaware that his acts constituted a crime, he may not be held criminally liable for an act done for and in behalf of his employer ( PP. vs. Corpuz, October 1, 2003)

5. Those who, by virtue of their managerial position or similar relations to the corporation  could be deemed responsible for its commission, if by virtue of their relations to the corporation, they had the power to prevent the act  

F. Where the act is a violation by a juridical entity, the officers or employee cannot put up the following defenses:

1. It is no defense that he did not benefit from the act

2. The accused cannot hide behind the principle of separate corporate personality of the juridical entity in order to escape liability

G. A person cannot escape punishment when he participates in the commission of a crime on the ground that he simply acted as an agent or representative of a party

H. Criminally liability is purely personal and is limited to the acts/omissions of an accused and not for the acts or omissions of third persons ( res inter alios acta rule) .Except when there exists a conspiracy between two or more persons where the act of one becomes the act of all resulting to a joint criminal responsibility or collective liability.


I. There are three kinds of principals depending on the nature of their participation in the commission of the crime. However, irrespective of what type of principal they belong, their penalty will be the same. They are the following:

A. Principal by Direct Participation

B. Principal by Indespensable Cooperation

C. Principal by Inducement




A. This refers to those who actually and directly take part in the execution of the act. In all crimes there must always be those who actually perform the act which brings about the crime. They may be only one person or more. Whenever there are two or more involved in a crime, it becomes necessary to find out those who actually executed the act so that all may be held equally liable.

B. To hold two or more persons as principals by direct participation, it must be shown that there exists a conspiracy between and among them. This is not the conspiracy punished as a crime but the conspiracy as a mode or manner of incurring criminally or that legal relationship whereby, in the eyes of the law, it may be said that the act of any one is the act of all.

II. For conspiracy to exist, there be an intentional felony, not a culpable felony, and it must be proved that all those to be considered as PDPs performed the following:

A. ( Unity of Intention) They participated, agreed, or concurred in the criminal design, intent or purposes or resolution.

1. This participation may be prior to the actual execution of the acts which produced the crime ( Anterior Conspiracy )  or it may be at the very moment the acts are actually being executed and carried out ( Instant Conspiracy).

2. Hence it is not necessary to prove that before the commission of the crime, the several accused actually came and met together to plan or discuss the commission of the crime.

3. “Spontaneous agreement or active cooperation by all perpetrators at the moment of the commission of the crime is sufficient to create a joint criminal responsibility” ( Sim Jr. vs. CA, 428 SCRA 459)

B. (Unity of Action ). All participated in the execution or carrying out of the common intent, design, purpose or objective by acts intended to bring about the common objective.

1. Each must have performed an act, no matter how small or insignificant so long as it was intended to contribute to the realization of the crime conspired upon.  This requires that the principal by direct participation must be at the crime scene, except in the following instances:

a). When he is the mastermind

b). When he orchestrates or directs the actions of the others from some other place

c). His participation or contribution was already accomplished prior to the actual carrying out of the crime conspired such: his role was to conduct surveillance or to obtain data or information about the place or the victims; to purchase the tools or weapons, or the get away vehicle, or to find a safe house

d). His role/participation is to be executed simultaneously but elsewhere, such as by crating a diversion or in setting up a blocking force

e). His role/participation is after the execution of the main acts such as guarding the victim; looking for a buyer of the loot; “laundering” the proceeds of the crime

III. Participation in both ( Intention and Action) is necessary because:

A. Mere knowledge, acquiescence or agreement to cooperate, is not enough to constitute one as a party to a conspiracy, absent any active participation in the commission of the crime, with a view to the furtherance of the criminal design and purpose. Conspiracy transcends companionship

B. He who commits the same or similar acts on the victim but is a stranger to the conspiracy is separately liable. Simultaneous acts by several persons do not automatically give rise to conspiracy.

C. Examples:

1. X joined in the planning of the crime but was unable to join his companions on the day of the crime because he was hospitalized. He is not liable.

2. X is the common enemy of A and B who are strangers to one another. Both A and B chanced upon X.  A stabbed X while B shot him. A and B will have individual liabilities.

D. Exception: When a person joins a conspiracy after its formation, he thereby adopts the previous acts of the conspirators which are admissible against him. This is under the Principle of Conspiracy by Adoption.

IV. Proof of Conspiracy

A. Direct proof of conspiracy is not necessary. The existence thereof maybe inferred under the Doctrine of Implied Conspiracy which directs that if two or more persons:

(i). Aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object

(ii). Each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative

(iii). Indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment

(iv).A conspiracy maybe inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert is proved.

V. Effect of Conspiracy. There will be a joint or common or collective criminal liability, otherwise each will be liable only to the extent of the act done by him.

VI. For what crime will the co-conspirators be liable?

A. For the crime actually committed if it was the crime agreed upon

B. For any other crime even if not agreed upon, provided it was the direct, natural, logical consequence of, or related to, or was necessary to effect, the crime agreed upon. Otherwise only the person who committed the different crime will be held liable.

VII. When is a co-conspirator freed from liability?

A. Only if he has performed an overt act either to:

1. Disassociate or detach himself from the plan

2. Prevent the commission of the second or different or related crime   

B. Likewise, if for any reason not attributable to the law enforcement agents, he was not able to proceed to the crime scene and/or execute an act to help realize the common objective, then he can not be held liable as a co-conspirator. Thus he is not liable if he got sick, overslept, or forgot about it, but not when law agents took him into custody to prevent him from doing his part of the agreement.

Thus in Robbery with Homicide, all who conspired in the robbery will be liable for the homicide unless one of the conspirators proved he tried to prevent the homicide.


I. Concept: Those who induce (PDP) to commit a crime either by: (a) force (b). inducement

II. The use of force involves the application of either:

A. Active force or material force upon the person of the PDP, resulting to serious bodily injury, to such a degree that the PDP is left with no choice but to do as ordered or

B. Instilling fear of the commission or infliction of an equal or greater injury or evil either to the PDP or the latter’s family or even to a third person.

The PDP may set up the use of force as an exempting circumstance.

III. Inducement connotes that there was an agreement or conspiracy between the PI and the PDP. The inducement assumes several forms such as the following:

A. By the giving of a price, promise or reward. This must be made with the intention of procuring the commission of the crime and not as an expression of appreciation. The same must be the sole reason for the commission of the crime.

This also serves as an aggravating circumstance which will affect both the giver and the recipient.

B. By giving Words of Command.

1. The utterer must have an ascendancy or influence over the PDP, or is one entitled to obedience from the PDP

2. The words must be so direct, so efficacious, so powerful and persistently made, as to amount to physical or moral force

3. Must be made directly with the intention of procuring the commission of the crime and is therefore the determining cause and it thus precedes the crime

4. They do not include thoughtless or imprudent utterances. Mere advises, counsel or suggestions or exhortations.

C. By the use of Inciting Words. These are words uttered while a crime is going on by one who is present and are directed to a participant in the crime, such as the words “ sige pa, kick him,  kill him, bugbugin mo”. The following must however be considered

1. Whether the words were uttered by one with moral ascendancy over the accused and to whom obedience is due from the accused

2. Whether the utterances were the result of the excitement generated by the situation or that the utterer was caught up in his own excitement or emotion, or whether the uttrerer was coolly and deliberately uttering such words with the intention that they be acted upon

3. Whether the crime would be committed anyway even without the utterances, or if such utterances were the moving cause of the crime

D. By earnest and persistent solicitation or cajoling amounting to moral force by one with authority or influence over the accused


I. Refers to those who cooperate in the commission of the offense by another act without which it would not have been accomplished. There must be a community of design or common purpose between the PIC and the PDP, but not a conspiracy. The PIC knows or is aware of the intention or purpose of the PDP and he cooperates or concurs in its realization by performing an act without which the offense would not have been accomplished.

II. The cooperation may be:

A. By moral cooperation such as (i) providing technical advise, expertise on how to execute the crime such as on how to avoid security arrangements (ii) revealing the combination numbers of a bank vault, or the location of warning devices (iii) revealing the whereabouts of a victim:

B. By Physical external acts such as:

1. Providing the weapon or tools, or the key to open the building

2. Providing the mode of transportation to enable the accused to reach the place of the scene of the crime

3. Dragging he victim to the place of execution

4. Leaving open the doors, giving the key to open the building

5. Holding on to a victim to preventing him victim from resisting or drawing a weapon

6. Holding back a person from going to the assistance of a victim

C. Through Negligent Acts such as

1. The bank employee who failed to ascertain the identity of the presenter of a check and who initials it

2. The guarantor who failed to ascertain the identity of the holder of a check presented for encashment

3. A security guard whose laxity enabled a killer to enter the compound and kill an occupant therein


I. Concept: Those persons who, not being included in article 17, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts They are also referred to as the” Accessories Before the Fact”.

II. There is no conspiracy between the accomplice and the PDP but there is community of design between them i.e the accomplice knows and is aware of the intent, purpose or design of the PDP. He then concurs, or approves of the intent of the PDP by cooperating in the accomplishment of the purpose through an assistance given the PDP.

III. The cooperation of the accomplice is not indispensable in that the crime would still be accomplished even without his cooperation. His cooperation or assistance may facilitate or make easier the commission the crime but the crime would still be accomplished anyway. The acts of the accomplice must however be related to the acts of the PDP but they merely show that the accomplice agrees, approves or concurs with what the PDP intends to do or what he has done.

IV. The cooperation may be in the following forms:

A. Moral as in word of encouragement or advises

B. Through external acts which are either previous or simultaneous to the execution of the criminal acts, such as :

1. Giving of additional weapons or ammunition or a faster mode of transportation, or food to the accused

2. Blocking, or tripping a person who intends to assist the victim

3. Throwing stones, spitting, kicking, or delivering a blow, at the victim

4. Continuing to choke the victim after seeing that a deadly or fatal blow had been inflicted on the victim

Note: The act of the accomplice should not be more fatal or more deadly or mortal than that delivered by the PDP

Example: (PP. vs.  Cual, Mach 9, 2000). X and the victim Y were fighting and grappling for the possession of a steel pipe. B arrived and hacked at Y who ran away. X stood by while B pursued Y and killed him. Is X an accomplice?

V. Distinction between an Accomplice and a Principal By Indispensable Cooperation.

A. The acts of an accomplice are not indispensable to the consummation of the offense in that the crime would still be consumated even without his cooperation, whereas the cooperation of the PIC is one without which the offense would not have been accomplished

B. There is no conspiracy between the accomplice and the PDP but which exist between the PIC and the PDP

C. Example: PP. vs. Roland Garcia: Jan. 15, 2002

FACTS: In a case of kidnapping for ransom, the police arrested the accused who received the money from the wife of the victim. They learned the victim was kept in a house. The police proceeded to the house where they surprised X and Y who were seated and who tried to enter a room to get guns. The two were not among the four who actually kidnapped the victim. The victim was found in a room handcuffed and blindfolded.

QUESTION: What is the criminal liability of X and Y?

HELD: At the time X and Y were caught, the victim had already been rendered immobile, his eyes blindfolded and his hands handcuffed. He could not have gone elsewhere and escaped. It is clear X and Y were merely guarding the house for purpose of either helping the  other accused in facilitating the successful denoument of the crime or repelling any attempt to rescue the victim. They thus cooperated in the execution of the offense by previous and/or simultaneous acts by means of which they aided or facilitated the execution of the crime but without indispensable act for its accomplishment. They are merely accomplices.

A co-conspirator us distinguished from an accomplice, thus:

Conspirators and accomplices have one thing in common: they know and agree with the criminal design. Conspirators, however, know the criminal intention because they themselves have decided upon such course of action. Accomplices come to know about it after   the principal reached the decision and only then do they agree to cooperate in its execution. Conspirators decided that a crime should be committed; accomplices merely concur in it. Accomplices do not decide whether te crime should be committed; they merely assent tot eh plan and cooperate in its accomplishment. Conspirators are the authors of a crime; accomplices are merely their instruments who perform acts not essential to the perpetration of the offense.

Further, the crime could have been accomplished even without the participation of X and Y. “ In some exceptional cases, having  community of design with the principal does not prevent a malefactor from being regarded as an accomplice if his role in the perpetration of he crime was…of minor character”.

NOTE: Had it been that the victim as not immobilized and could still escape, then X and Y would be considered as principals as they would still be considered as detaining and preventing the escape f the victim.


I. Introduction:

A. They are referred to as the Accessories Proper or the Accessories- After- the-Fact. This is because their participation in the crime comes only after the crime has been committed by others. It is only then that they enter into the picture.

B. Requirement of Scienter: All 3 kinds of accessories require that they must have knowledge of the commission of the crime otherwise they are not liable even if they did an act described in Article 19.

II. The First Kind: By profiting themselves or assisting the offender profit by the effects of the crime.

A. The effects of the crime includes the property taken as well as the price, promise or reward given as the determining cause of the crime.

B. “Profiting themselves” include any act of dealing with the property including accepting as a gift, donation, security or purchasing it a lower price. The transaction involving the property however must be mutual and voluntary with whosoever the accessory dealt with otherwise he is liable as the principal in theft or robbery.

Example: X pick-pocketed the money stolen by Z from another. X is not an accessory even if he profited himself but is liable for theft. Or if X poked a gun at Z and took the money, he would be liable for robbery. If Z dropped some of the money he stole which X picked up, X is liable for theft not as an accessory.   

C. “Assisting the offender profit” includes acts of looking for a buyer, though no commission is received, or of secreting it away or joining in its disposal.  

D. Relation to Pres. Decree No. 1612 or “The Anti Fencing Law”

1. If the crimes involve theft or robbery, the acts may be punished as “FENCING” i.e. the act of any person “ who, with intent to gain for himself or for another, shall buy, receive, possess, etc. or in any manner deal in any article, item, object, or anything of value which he knows or should be known to him, to have been derived from the proceeds of robbery or theft”

2. The knowledge (scienter) may be actual or constructive

3. The venue is where the property is found

4. The prior conviction of the thief/robber is not required to convict the fence. But it be proved the property came from robbery/theft, not any other offense such as estafa, malversation, kidnapping.

5. An accessory cannot again be prosecuted for fencing and vise-versa

E. If the property was the proceeds of Highway Robbery or Piracy, the dealer is not liable as an accessory but for Violation of P.D. 532 for the crime of Aiding/Abetting Brigands or Pirates

III. The Second Act: By concealing or destroying the body of the crime or the effects or instruments in order to prevent its discovery.

A. To conceal or destroy the body of the crime includes all manner of interfering with, or altering the original conditions of the crime scene, or of anything therein which may be considered as evidence, prior to a completion of the evidence gathering by the law enforcers.  Examples:

1. Changing the position of the body of the victim

2. Placing a weapon or removing one or replacing a weapon

3. Throwing pieces of evidence as cigarettes butts

4. Washing off the blood stains or cleaning the crime scene

5. Placing a suicide note

6. Making unnecessary foot prints

B. The object or purpose must be to prevent the authorities from discovering what truly transpired such as the number and identity of the assailants; how the crime was committed, and all matters related to the solution of the crime and prosecution of the offenders.

1. Thus one who help moved the body not knowing the reason why is not an accessory

2. One who acted out of curiosity or who moved the body for fear of reprisal or of being blamed as the killer is not an accessory

IV. The Third Act: By harboring, concealing or assisting in the escape of the principal.

A. There are two kinds of accessories under this mode:

1. A Public Officer- he must abuse his public function and the crime by the principal maybe any crime. If there was no abuse then he will be considered as a private person.

Example: The Mayor hides a suspect in his office to prevent identification or provides a false alibi for him

2. A Private Person- the principal must be guilty of treason, parricide, murder, attempt on the life of the chief executive, or is habitually guilty of some other crime.

B. Meaning of the term” guilty”. For purposes of charging a person as an accessory, the term does not mean a judicial pronouncement of guilt but means ”probably guilty of”. But where the court later finds that the crime committed by the principal is not any of the enumerated offenses, then the private person who assisted him escape is not an accessory.

C.  The acts include (i) giving of material help such as food, money or clothing (ii) providing shelter, a safe house or hideaway (iii) providing a mode of transportation (iv) providing disguises, false identification papers, as well as by (v) refusing to cooperate with the authorities or to identify the principal or (vi) giving disinformation or false data

D. Under Pres. Decree No. 1829, the same act maybe punished as “Obstruction of Justice” - the crime committed by any person who assist in the escape of a person who committed any crime.

V. May the Accessory be tried and declared guilty ahead of the principal?

A. As a rule the answer is no because of the principle that the liability of the Accessory is Subordinate to that of the Principal. There must first be a person convicted as a principal before there can be an accessory.

B. However, the accessory maybe prosecuted ahead of the principal even if the principal has not yet been identified or arrested or has surrendered  if: First;  the act of the accessory is under either paragraph (a) or (b)  or Second; even under paragraph C if the principal has not yet been placed under the jurisdiction of the authorities.

C. Once the principal is later tried but the case against the accessory has not yet been terminated, the trial against the accessory must be suspended to await the out come of the trial against the principal. However the two cases maybe consolidated and tried jointly, if proper.

VI. If the principal is acquitted, should the accessory be also acquitted?

A. If the principal was acquitted by reason of a justifying circumstance, then the accessory must also be acquitted.

B. If the principal was acquitted due to an exempting circumstance, the accessory may still be convicted.     

C. If the ground is that the guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, the accessory may still be convicted if his acts fall under either paragraph (a) or (b)

VII. If the principal dies, may the accessory still be prosecuted?

A. Yes, if the act is under either paragraph (a) or (b)

B. But if his act falls under paragraph © there are two views on the matter. The first view holds that he cannot be prosecuted for in legal contemplation there was no principal whom he assisted. The second view holds that the accessory may still be prosecuted because the death merely extinguished the liability of the principal but the crime remains and the participation of the accessory in it may still be proved.


1. Who are exempt:

A. Those who are accessories under paragraph (b) and (c) if the principal is a relative. This is in recognition of the ties of blood and is an absolutory cause. The relatives are the same as those under Article 15 (Relatives by consanguinity within the 4th civil degree are excluded)

Note: A person is not liable for defending his blood relatives within the 4th civil degree. But he is liable if he helps them escape or if he destroys the evidence against them.

B. Those under paragraph (a) are not exempt because it is presumed what motivated them is greed, rather than ties of blood.  

C. Accessories to a light offense