Criminal Negligence

I. Introduction: Negligence may either be criminal or not. Non criminal negligence may either be contractual or quasi-delictual. Criminal Negligence is the third among the three classes of crimes, the two others being intentional or malicious crimes and the other being crimes mala prohibita.

II. Negligence is deficiency of perception or lack of foresight: the failure to foresee impending injury, thoughtlessness, failure to use ordinary care. Whereas, imprudence is deficiency of action in avoiding an injury due to lack of skill. Both result to a culpable felony.

III. Reckless: If the danger to another is visible and consciously appreciated by the accused. It is simple if the injury is not immediate or openly visible.

IV. Principles:

A. The degree of diligence required by law varies with the nature of the situation in which a person is placed.

B. Negligence maybe presumed if at the time the accident occurred, the accused was violating a regulation the purpose of which was to prevent the accident.

C. There is no conspiracy in culpable felonies.

D. As to the penalties:

1. The penalty as provided under article 356 depends on whether the negligence/imprudence is reckless or simple and it generally applies to all situations of culpable felonies, unless there is a specific penalty provided in certain crimes. Example: culpable malversation, evasion through negligence.

2.The principle of complex crimes apply if several grave or less graves crimes result

V-. Defenses Allowed:

A. If both the victim and the accused were negligent, the accused may be held liable under the Doctrine of Last Clear Chance i.e it was he who had the sufficient opportunity to avoid the accident after noticing the danger

B. Emergency Rule: due to the negligence of another, the accused was placed in an emergency and compelled to act immediately to avoid an impending danger, and in so doing he injured another, even if his choice of action was not the wisest under circumstances. This is similar to the exempting circumstance of accident.

C. The defense of contributory negligent does not apply in criminal cases committed through reckless imprudence, since one cannot allege the negligence of another to evade the effects of his own negligence ( Manzanares s. PP, 504 SCRA 354)

D. Contributory negligence on the part of the victim merely mitigates the civil liability of the accused.

VI. If, in a vehicular accident, the accused abandons the victims, this act will result to the imposition of a penalty one degree higher. Except in the following instances:

a).  if he leaves because he is in imminent danger of being harmed

b). he leaves to report to the police

c). or to summon a physician, nurse or doctor.