Criminal Law

INTOD v. CA G.R. No. 103119. October 21, 1992 Impossible Crime, Factual Impossibility, Legal Impossibility

FACTS:

Petitioner Sulpicio Intod and his companions, Mandaya, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig had a meeting with Aniceto Dumalagan. He told Mandaya that he wanted Palangpangan to be killed because of a land dispute between them and that Mandaya should accompany the four (4) men, otherwise, he would also be killed.

At about 10:00 o’clock in the evening on that same day, Petitioner, and company all armed with firearms, arrived at Palangpangan’s house. At the instance of his companions, Mandaya pointed the location of Palangpangan’s bedroom. Thereafter, Petitioner, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig fired at said room. It turned out, however, that Palangpangan was in another City and her home was then occupied by her son-in-law and his family. No one was in the room when the accused fired the shots. No one was hit by the gun fire.

Petitioner and his companions were positively identified by witnesses. 

After trial, the RTC convicted Intod of attempted murder. The CA affirmed in toto the trial court’s decision. 

Hence this petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner is liable only for an impossible crime, citing Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code.

RULING:

Petition is GRANTED.

ARTICLE 4(2). Criminal Responsibility. — Criminal Responsibility shall be incurred:

x       x       x

2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.

To be impossible under this clause, the act intended by the offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. There must be either (1) legal impossibility, or (2) physical impossibility of accomplishing the intended act  in order to qualify the act as an impossible crime.

Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a crime.  Thus:

Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where 

(1) the motive, desire and expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; 

(2) there is intention to perform the physical act, 

(3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and 

(4) the consequence resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. 

The impossibility of killing a person already dead falls in this category.

On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime.

The case at bar belongs to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought his victim would be, although in reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus, the petitioner failed to accomplish his end.

Legal impossibility, on the other hand, is a defense which can be invoked to avoid criminal liability for an attempt.

In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are recognized. The impossibility of accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but an act penalized by itself. Furthermore, the phrase “inherent impossibility” that is found in Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code makes no distinction between factual or physical impossibility and legal impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos.

The factual situation in the case at bar presents physical impossibility which rendered the intended crime impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of the RPC, such is sufficient to make the act an impossible crime.

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