Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon.

Given Paniterce’s death, we are now faced with the question of the effect of such death on the present appeal.

Paniterce’s death onAugust 22, 2009, during the pendency of his appeal, extinguished not only his criminal liabilities for the rape and acts of lasciviousness committed against his daughters, but also his civil liabilities solely arising from or based on said crimes.

According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability is totally extinguished:

  1. By the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.

Applying the foregoing provision, we laid down the following guidelines in People v. Bayotas[13]:

1.         Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon.  As opined by Justice Regalado, in this regard, “the death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.”

2.         Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of (the) accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict.  Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission:

a)   Law

b)   Contracts

c)   Quasi-contracts

x x x x

e)      Quasi-delicts

3.         Where the civil liability survives, as explained in Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended.  This separate civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained above.

4.         Finally, the private offended party need not fear a forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of the criminal action and prior to its extinction, the private-offended party instituted together therewith the civil action.  In such case, the statute of limitations on the civil liability is deemed interrupted during the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with the provisions of Article 1155 of the Civil Code that should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible privation of right by prescription.[14]

Clearly, it is unnecessary for the Court to rule on Paniterce’s appeal.  Whether or not he was guilty of the crimes charged has become irrelevant since, following Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code and our disquisition in Bayotas, even assuming Paniterce had incurred criminal liabilities, they were totally extinguished by his death.  Moreover, because Paniterce’s appeal was still pending and no final judgment of conviction had been rendered against him when he died, his civil liabilities arising from the crimes, being civil liabilities ex delicto, were likewise extinguished by his death.

Consequently, the appealed Decision dated August 22, 2008 of the Court of Appeals – finding Paniterce guilty of rape and acts of lasciviousness, sentencing him to imprisonment, and ordering him to indemnify his victims – had become ineffectual.

About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Appeal, Criminal Law, Criminal Liability, Torts and Damages and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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