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Q: What is criminal law?

A: Criminal law is that branch of law, which defines

crimes, treats of their nature, and provides for their punishment.
Q: What are the theories in criminal law?
A: Classical theory -The basis of criminal liability is human free will and
the purpose of the penalty is retribution. It is
endeavored to establish a mechanical and direct proportion between crime and
penalty, and there is scant regard to the human element. Note: RPC is
generally governed by this theory.
Positivist theory -The basis of criminal
liability is the sum of the social, natural and economic phenomena to which the
actor is exposed. The purposes of penalty are prevention and correction. This
theory is exemplified in the provisions regarding impossible crimes and habitual
Eclectic or Mixed theory It is a combination of positivist and classical
thinking wherein crimes that are economic and social in nature should be
dealt in a positive manner, thus, the law is
more compassionate. Ideally, the classical theory is applied to heinous crimes,
whereas, the positivist is made to work on economic and social crimes.
Utilitarian or Protective theory - The
primary purpose of the punishment under criminal law is the protection of society
from actual and potential wrongdoers. The courts, therefore, in exacting
retribution for the wronged society, should direct the punishment to potential
or actual wrongdoers, since criminal law is directed against acts or omissions
which the society does not approve. Consistent with this theory is the mala
prohibita principle which punishes an offense regardless of malice or criminal
Q: What are the basic maxims in criminal law?

A: Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege

(There is no crime when there is no law punishing the same) No matter
how wrongful, evil or bad the act is, if there is
no law defining the act, the same is not considered a crime.
Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea (The act cannot be
criminal where the mind is not criminal) This is true to a felony
characterized by dolo, but not a
felony resulting from culpa. This maxim is not an absolute one because it
is not applied to culpable felonies, or those thatresult from negligence.
Doctrine of Pro Reo Whenever a penal
law is to be construed or applied and the
law admits of two interpretations, one

lenient to the offender and one strict to

the offender, that interpretation which is
lenient or favorable to the offender will be adopted.
Actus me invito factus non est meus actus
(An act done by me against my will is not my act)
Whenever a person is under a compulsion of irresistible force or
uncontrollable fear to do an act against his will, in which that act
produces a crime or offense, such person is
exempted in any criminal liability arising from the said act.

Q: What is the difference between crimes mala in se and crimes mala prohibita?
Mala in se

Acts or omissions which are inherently evil.

Punished under the RPC.

Mala Prohibita

Acts which are made evil because there is a law prohibiting it.
Violations of special laws
Note: Not all violations of special laws are mala prohibita. Even if the
crime is punished under a special law, if the act punished is one which is
inherently wrong, the same is malum in se, and, therefore, good faith and
the lack of criminal intent is a valid defense; unless it is the product
of criminal negligence or culpa.

Q: What are the requirements of an offense

committed while on a Philippine ship or airship?

The ship or airship must be registered

with the Philippine Bureau of Customs.
The ship must be in the high seas or the
airship must be in international space.
Note: Under International Law rule, a vessel which is not registered in
accordance with the laws of any
country is considered a private vessel and piracy is a
crime against humanity in general, such that wherever
pirates may go, they can be prosecuted.

Q: What are the two recognized rules on jurisdiction over merchant vessels?
A: The French rule and the English rule. These rules refer to the jurisdiction of
one country over its merchant vessels situated in another country.
These do not apply to war vessels over which a country always has jurisdiction.
Q: What is the French rule?

A: The French rule recognizes the jurisdiction of the

flag country over crimes committed on board the
vessel except if the crime disturbs the peace and
order and security of the host country.
Q: What is the English rule?
A: The English rule recognizes that the host country has jurisdiction over crimes
committed on board the vessel unless they involve the internal
management of the vessel.
Note: The effect on jurisdiction of both rules is almost the same because the
general rule of one is the exception of the other.
Q: What is mens rea?
A: Mens rea is referred to as the gravamen of the
offense. Mens rea of the crime depends upon the
elements of the crime. It can only be determined by
knowing the particular crime committed.

In theft, the mens rea is the taking of the

property of another with intent to gain.
In falsification, the mens rea is the effecting of the forgery with intent to
pervert the truth.
In robbery, the mens rea is the taking of the property of another coupled
with the employment of intimidation or violence upon persons or things.

Q: What is a proximate cause?

A: Proximate cause is that cause which sets into
motion other causes and which, unbroken by any efficient supervening cause,
produces a felony without which such felony could not have resulted.
(He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil of the cause.)
Q: Is proximate cause the same as immediate cause?
A: A proximate cause is not necessarily the
immediate cause. Immediate cause may be a cause which is far and remote
from the consequence which sets into motion other causes which resulted
in the felony. As long as the act of the accused contributed to the
death of the victim, even if the victim is about to
die, he will still be liable for the felonious act of putting to death that victim.
Q: What circumstances are considered as inefficient intervening causes?

The weak physical condition of the victim

The nervousness or temperament of the victim

Causes which are inherent in the victim,

such as the victim's inability to swim
Refusal of the injured party of medical attendance
Erroneous or unskillful medical treatment
Note: Although the following may have intervened in
the commission of the crime, the offender is still liable
for the resulting crime because the proximate cause is caused by him.

Q: What are the requisites of an impossible crime?

Act performed would be an offense against persons or property.

Note: Kidnapping is a crime against personal
security and not against person or property
Act was done with evil intent
Accomplishment is inherently impossible
or means employed is either inadequate or ineffectual.
Act performed should not constitute a
violation of another provision of RPC
Note: The offender must believe that he can consummate the
intended crime. A man stabbing another who he knew was already
dead cannot be liable for an impossible crime.