Criminal Law

CLASSIFICATION OF FELONIES [And their Penalties]

Grave, Less Grave, and Light Felonies

Paman v. People G.R. No. 210129, July 05, 2017

[Serious Physical Injuries is a Less Grave Felony]

Less grave felonies are those which the law punishes with penalties which in their maximum period are correctional. [RPC, Article 9, paragraph (2)]

Correctional penalties include prision correccional, arresto mayor, suspension, and destierro.[RPC, Article 25] 

The MTCC considered the physical injuries suffered by Arambala as serious since he required medical attendance for more than a period of 30 days. 

Under Article 263(4) of the RPC, the penalty for serious physical injuries, when the injuries inflicted caused incapacity for more than 30 days, is arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period; the maximum period of the foregoing penalty – prision correccional in its minimum period – is merely a correctional penalty and, thus, should be considered a less grave felony.

Article 365. Imprudence and negligence. – Any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed.

Reodica v. CA G.R. No. 125066 July 8, 1998 

Reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries is punishable by public censure only. Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Revised Penal Code defines light felonies as infractions of law carrying the penalty of arresto menor or a fine not exceeding P200.00, or both. Since public censure is classified under Article 25 of the Code as a light penalty, and is considered under the graduated scale provided in Article 71 of the same Code as a penalty lower than arresto menor, it follows that the offense of reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries is a light felony.

People vs. Lontok, G.R. No. L-37396, April 30, 1979

Complex Crime of Physical Injuries and Damage to Property

There is a complex crime when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies or when a grave or less grave offense is a means of committing another grave or less grave offense.

Light felonies of damage to property and slight physical injuries, both resulting from a single act of imprudence, do not constitute a complex crime. They cannot be charged in one information. They are separate offenses subject to distinct penalties.

LEGISLATIVE RECOGNITION OF CORRECTIONAL PENALTY PRESCRIBED FOR LIGHT FELONY

By: JUDGE MARLO B. CAMPANILLA

Under Article 9 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by RA No. 10951, felonies are classified into grave, less grave and light felonies.

Grave felonies are those to which the law attaches the capital punishment or penalties which any of their periods are afflictive (e.g. reclusion perpetua, reclusion temporal, prision mayor or a fine exceeding ₱1,200,000). 

Less grave felonies are those which the law punishes with penalties which in their maximum period are correctional (e.g. prision correccional, arresto mayor or a fine not less than ₱40,000 but not exceeding ₱1,200,000). 

Light felonies are those infractions of law or the commission of which the penalty of arresto menor or a fine not exceeding ₱40,000 or both is provided However under Article 26, a fine not less than ₱40,000 but not exceeding ₱1,200,000 shall be considered a correctional penalty.

Idealistically, the penalty for a light felony should be a light penalty. However, RA No. 10951 has retained the phrases “not exceeding” in Article 9 and “not less than” in Article 26 despite the fact that they provide a legally absurd situation where light felony can be punished by a correctional penalty.  

In reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property where the amount of the damage is P13,333, the highest penalty imposable is fine of P40,000. This is a light felony in accordance with Article 9 because the fine is not exceeding ₱40,000. On the other hand, the penalty is correctional in accordance with Article 26 because the fine is not less than ₱40,000. A light penalty of fine must be less than ₱40,000.

In People vs. Yu Hai, G.R. No. L-9598, August 15, 1956, the Supreme Court was confronted with the issue of prescription of a light felony, which is punishable by a correctional penalty. According to the Highest Tribunal, since the issue is prescription of crime (and not penalty), Article 9 on classification of felonies shall apply. 

Applying Yu Hai principle by analogy, if the issue is prescription of penalty, Article 26 on classification of penalty shall apply. 

Under Article 90, the prescriptive period of a light felony is two months. Under Article 9, a crime punishable by a fine exactly ₱40,000 is a light felony because it is “not exceeding ₱40,000.   Hence, the period of prescription for this crime is 2 months. 

Under Article 92, the prescriptive period of correctional penalty is ten years. Under Article 26, a fine of exactly ₱40,000 shall be considered as correctional penalty because fine is “not less than ₱40,000.”Hence, the period of prescription of this penalty is ten years.

  • Quoting above Judge Marlo B. Campanilla

REVISED PENAL CODE

Chapter One

FELONIES

Art. 7. When light felonies are punishable. — Light felonies are punishable only when they have been consummated, with the exception of those committed against person or property.

Art. 9. Grave felonies, less grave felonies and light felonies. — Grave felonies are those to which the law attaches the capital punishment or penalties which in any of their periods are afflictive, in accordance with Art. 25 of this Code.

Less grave felonies are those which the law punishes with penalties which in their maximum period are correctional, in accordance with the above-mentioned Article

Light felonies are those infractions of law for the commission of which a penalty of arrest menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos or both; is provided.

Art. 16. Who are criminally liable. — The following are criminally liable for grave and less grave felonies:

1. Principals.

2. Accomplices.

3. Accessories. 

The following are criminally liable for light felonies:

1. Principals

2. Accomplices.

Art. 17. 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.chanrobles virtual law library

Art. 18. Accomplices. — Accomplices are those persons who, not being included in Art. 17, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts. 

Art. 19. 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. 

2011 Bar Exam

9. When are light felonies punishable?

a) Light felonies are punishable in all stages of execution.

b) Light felonies are punishable only when consummated.

c) Light felonies are punishable only when consummated, with the exception of those committed against persons or property.

d) Light felonies are punishable only when committed against persons or property.

Suggested Answer:

c) Light felonies are punishable only when consummated, with the exception of those committed against persons or property.

60. The classification of felonies into grave, less grave, and light is important in ascertaining

A. if certain crimes committed on the same occasion can be complexed.

B. the correct penalty for crimes committed through reckless imprudence.

C. whether the offender is liable as an accomplice. 

D. what stage of the felony has been reached.

Suggested Answer:

A. if certain crimes committed on the same occasion can be complexed.

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