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Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code provides for circumstances which exempt from criminal liability, to wit:
- 1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval. When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito), the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus afflicted, which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court.
- 2. A person under nine years of age.
- 3. A person over nine years of age and under fifteen, unless he has acted with discernment, in which case, such minor shall be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Art. 80 of this Code. When such minor is adjudged to be criminally irresponsible, the court, in conformably with the provisions of this and the preceding paragraph, shall commit him to the care and custody of his family who shall be charged with his surveillance and education otherwise, he shall be committed to the care of some institution or person mentioned in said Art. 80.
- 4. Any person who, while performing a lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere accident without fault or intention of causing it.
- 5. Any person who act under the compulsion of irresistible force.
- 6. Any person who acts under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury.
- 7. Any person who fails to perform an act required by law, when prevented by some lawful insuperable cause.
There are other provisions in the Revised Penal Code which provide for circumstances that also exempt the accused from criminal liability:
- Relationship in the case of certain accessories (Art. 20). See Accessories.
- Prescription (Art. 80). See Prescription (Criminal Law).
- Death or physical injuries under certain conditions (Art. 247). See Death inflicted under exceptional circumstances.
- Relationship in the crimes of theft, swindling and malicious mischief (Art. 332). See theft, swindling and malicious mischief.
- Pardon by or marriage with offended party (Art. 344). See seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape.
Acting on impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury
Any person who acts under the impulse of an uncontrollable fear of an equal or greater injury is exempt from criminal liability. To avail of this exempting circumstance, the evidence must establish: (1) the existence of an uncontrollable fear; (2) that the fear must be real and imminent; and (3) the fear of an injury is greater than or at least equal to that committed. A threat of future injury is insufficient. The compulsion must be of such a character as to leave no opportunity for the accused to escape.
In People vs. Baron, the Supreme Court held that there is nothing in the records to substantiate the insistence of the accused that he was under duress from his co-accused in participating in the crime. The other co-accused dragged the victim towards the sugarcane field and left the accused-appellant inside the tricycle that was parked by the roadside. While all alone, he had every opportunity to escape since he was no longer subjected to a real, imminent or reasonable fear. Surprisingly, he opted to wait for his co-accused to return and even rode with them to another place to hide the victim’s motorcycle. The accused-appellant had other opportunities to escape since he traveled with his co-accused for more than 10 hours and passed several transportation terminals. However, he never tried to escape or at least request for assistance from the people around him.