Aggravating Circumstances are those circumstances that if present in the commission of the crime, they either: serve to increase the penalty or they change the nature of the crime.
Studying aggravating circumstances requires an exhaustive discussion as there are many circumstances that aggravate the commission of the crime, namely –
- Advantage taken of public position;
- Contempt or insult to public authorities;
- Disregard of age, sex, or dwelling of the offended party;
- Abuse of confidence and obvious ungratefulness;
- Palace and places of commission of offense;
- Nighttime, uninhabited place or band;
- On occasion of calamity or misfortune;
- Aid of armed men, or persons who insure or afford impunity;
- Recidivist ;
- Price, reward, or promise;
- By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, stranding of a vessel or intentional damage thereto, derailment of a locomotive, or by the use of any other artifice involving great waste or ruin.;
- Evident premeditation;
- Craft, fraud or disguise;
- Superior strength or means to weaken the defense;
- Unlawful entry;
- Breaking wall, roof, floor, door, or window;
- Aid of minor or by means of motor vehicle or other similar means; and
What is the Law?
Our discussion now will solely revolve paragraph 19 of Article 14, which provides:
Aggravating circumstances. – The following are aggravating circumstances:1
That as a means to the commission of a crime a wall, roof, floor, door, or window be broken.2
Understanding this provision will probably make you wonder what is the difference from paragraph 18 which states: “18. That the crime be committed after an unlawful entry. There is an unlawful entry when an entrance is effected by a way not intended for the purpose.”3
Paragraph 18 is about unlawful entry. If we are going to differentiate the two, the former involves the breaking of the parts of the house (wall, roof, window, door) while in the latter, it presumes that there is no such breaking as by entry through the window.
The basis of Article 14(19) or breaking a wall, roof, floor, door, or window is the means and ways employed to commit the crime.
Its primary requisites are:
- A wall, roof, window, or door was broken; and
- They were broken to effect entrance.
In the first requisite, there should be a wall, roof, window, or door that was broken and the second requisite means that the breaking of that part is the means to enter the house. So it should be noted that it is only aggravating if the offender resorted to any of said means to enter the house.
In People vs. Capillas,4 the Supreme Court held that to be considered the crime as an aggravating circumstance, breaking the door must be utilized as a means to the commission of the crime, thus the breaking of rope used to close the door is not aggravating in the case at bar, to wit:
“To be considered as an aggravating circumstance, breaking the door must be utilized as a means to the commission of the crime. The defendants did not break the door of the victims as a means to commit robbery with homicide. Pablo Amante testified that the appellants first broke the rope which was used to close the door. After the rope was broken, the appellants could already have entered the house. Breaking of the shutters and the framing of the door to insure the elements of surprise does not aggravate the commission of the crime. Art. 14, paragraph 19, of the Revised Penal Code is specific. To be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance, breaking the door must be utilized as a means of the commission of the crime.”5
It should be remembered as well that this circumstance is inherent in the crime of robbery, thus would not be considered aggravating. Breaking a part of the building is one of the means of entering the building to commit robbery with force upon things under Article 299, par. (a), and Art. 302 of the Code, to wit:
“Article 299. Robbery in an inhabited house or public building or edifice devoted to worship. – Any armed person who shall commit robbery in an inhabited house or public building or edifice devoted to religious worship, shall be punished by reclusion temporal, if the value of the property taken shall exceed 250 pesos, and if:6
- The malefactors shall enter the house or building in which the robbery was committed, by any of the following means:7
- By breaking any wall, roof, or floor or breaking any door or window.”8
“Article 302. Robbery is an uninhabited place or in a private building. – Any robbery committed in an uninhabited place or in a building other than those mentioned in the first paragraph of Article 299, if the value of the property taken exceeds 250 pesos, shall be punished by prision correccional if any of the following circumstances is present:9
- If any wall, roof, flour or outside door or window has been broken.”10
Committing a Crime By Breaking a Wall, Roof, Floor, Door, or Window
The act of unlawfully gaining entry to a property or premises by physically damaging or violently entering through these structural parts is sometimes referred to as breaking a wall, roof, floor, door, or window. This form of entrance is typically connected with activities such as theft, robbery, or trespassing, in which someone enter a property illegally with the intent to commit a crime.
Breakdown of Essential Components
The act of physically damaging or destroying a structural element such as a wall, roof, floor, door, or window is referred to as breaking. This includes the use of tools, force, or any other method to gain unwanted entry. When breaking into the property, the culprit must have the intent to conduct a crime. Theft, vandalism, assault, or any other unlawful behavior could be included. The person avoids the conventional means of access by breaking through a wall, roof, floor, door, or window, indicating their lack of authority to enter the place.
The act of breaking a door, roof, floor, or window in gaining entry without permission and using it to commit a crime constitutes aggravating circumstances. The crime is usually committed on someone else’s property, such as a home, a commercial facility, or any other structure where the owner or authorized occupants have the authority to limit entry.
It is crucial to note that the particular rules and punishments for breaking through these structural aspects differ based on the jurisdiction. The severity of the infraction and the related penalties will be determined by variables such as the perpetrator’s purpose, the type of crime committed, the value of the stolen goods, any harm caused to persons, and the offender’s criminal history.
When Breaking is Lawful
However there are instances where breaking is lawful, these are stated in the Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Court and in the performance of duty of public officers.
An officer has the right to break into any building or enclosure to make an arrest, and breaking of door, window, floor, or roof would be incidental in the performance of his duty, as stated in Section 11, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court:
Section 11. Right of officer to break into building or enclosure. — An officer, in order to make an arrest either by virtue of a warrant, or without a warrant as provided in section 5, may break into any building or enclosure where the person to be arrested is or is reasonably believed to be, if he is refused admittance thereto, after announcing his authority and purpose.11
Furthermore, in Section 7, Rule 126, in virtue to effect search, the officer has the right to break door or window of a house or any part of a house:
Section 7. Right to break door or window to effect search. — The officer, if refused admittance to the place of directed search after giving notice of his purpose and authority, may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house or any part of a house or anything therein to execute the warrant or liberate himself or any person lawfully aiding him when unlawfully detained therein.12
It is also lawful for the sheriff to cause the building or enclosure to be broken open during replevin as indicated in Section 4, Rule 160:
Section 4. Duty of the sheriff. — Upon receiving such order, the sheriff must serve a copy thereof on the adverse party, together with a copy of the application, affidavit and bond, and must forthwith take the property, if it be in the possession of the adverse party, or his agent, and retain it in his custody. If the property or any part thereof be concealed in a building or enclosure, the sheriff must demand its delivery, and if it be not delivered, he must cause the building or enclosure to be broken open and take the property into his possession. After the sheriff has take possession of the property as herein provided, he must keep it in a secure place and shall be responsible for its delivery to the party entitled thereto upon receiving his fees and necessary expenses for taking and keeping the same.13
In this kind of circumstance, in order for the Court to appreciate it as aggravating, breaking the parts of the house must be utilized as a means of the commission of the crime. This means that an accused must break the door, or the wall for that matter in order to gain entrance to the house, if this requisite shall not have been met, or no part of the house is broken, it cannot be appreciated under this paragraph.
In appreciating different circumstances, it must be noted that all requisites must be present. In order for the Court to determine whether to justify the crime, exempt the accused from criminal liability, mitigate the penalty, and aggravate the penalty of the accused in the commission of the crime.
- Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code
- Article 14, Paragraph 19 of the Revised Penal Code
- Article 14, Paragraph 18 of the Revised Penal Code
- G.R. No. L-27177, [October 23, 1981], 195 PHIL 64-81
- Article 299 of the Revised Penal Code
- Article 302 of the Revised Penal Code
- Rule 113, Section 11, Rules of Court
- Rule 126, Section 7, Rules of Court
- Rule 60, Section 4, Rules of Court