Petitioner Jason Ivler was charged before the MeTC, with two separate offenses: (1) Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries (Criminal Case No. 82367) for injuries sustained by Evangeline Ponce; and (2) Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property (Criminal Case No. 82366) for the death of Ponce’s husband Nestor and damage to their vehicle.
Petitioner posted bail for his temporary release in both cases.
Petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge in Criminal Case No. 82367 and was meted out the penalty of public censure. Invoking this conviction, petitioner moved to quash the Information in Criminal Case No. 82366 for placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for the same offense of reckless imprudence.
The MeTC refused quashal, finding no identity of offenses in the two cases.
Petitioner elevated the matter to the RTC and sought the suspension of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366, including the arraignment, invoking S.C.A. No. 2803 as a prejudicial question.
The RTC effectively affirmed the MeTC, and his MR denied.
Hence, this petition.
Whether or not petitioner’s constitutional right under the Double Jeopardy Clause bars further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366.
We find for petitioner.
Petitioner’s Conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367 Bars his Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366.
The protection afforded by the Constitution shielding petitioner from prosecution’s placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for the same offense bars further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366.
The accused’s negative constitutional right not to be “twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense”protects him from, among others, post-conviction prosecution for the same offense, with the prior verdict rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid information. It is not disputed that petitioner’s conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367 was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid charge.
Reckless Imprudence is a Single Crime, its Consequences on Persons and Property are Material Only to Determine the Penalty.
The two charges against petitioner, arising from the same facts, were prosecuted under the same provision of the RPC, namely, Article 365.
Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.
Prior Conviction or Acquittal of Reckless Imprudence Bars Subsequent Prosecution for the Same Quasi-Offense.
The doctrine that reckless imprudence under Article 365 is a single quasi-offense by itself and not merely a means to commit other crimes such that conviction or acquittal of such quasi-offense bars subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense, regardless of its various resulting acts, undergirded this Court’s unbroken chain of jurisprudence on double jeopardy as applied to Article 365 .
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the quasi offense of criminal negligence under article 365 of the RPC lies in the execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done, would be punishable as a felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of the offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person or several persons, the offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be split into different crimes and prosecutions.