The imposition of penalties and fines plays a vital role in upholding the principles of law and order within our society. Thus, discussion on fines and penalties under the Revised Penal Code will be tackled in this article.
These penal sanctions are implemented with the primary objective of discouraging the commission of criminal acts, thereby safeguarding the security and welfare of our community.
By such implementation, we effectively communicate an unequivocal declaration that any form of illicit conduct shall not be countenanced.
Furthermore, it is important to note that these penalties are designed with the intention of bestowing justice upon the victims and their respective families, thus, affording them a profound sense of resolution and recompense.
It is of utmost importance that we diligently adhere to the provisions set forth in the Revised Penal Code as regards the proper imposition of penalties and fines as a result of a commission of a crime, among others.
Proper enforcement thereof will establish a state of concord and ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals residing in the Philippines.
Correct Penalties and Fines under the Revised Penal Code
Penalties are imposed for punishment, reformation, and rehabilitation. Penalties may be in the form of imprisonment, fine, community service, disqualification or suspension, civil interdiction, forfeiture of benefits, or confiscation of proceeds.1
Meanwhile, a fine is the fixed monetary sanction imposed by a judge based on the severity of the crime committed and the ability of the offender to pay. It is imposed either as a principal or alternative penalty for the commission of a crime.2
Fines and penalties are important sentencing tools in criminal courts. Also, correct imposition must be upheld because it greatly affects the liberty and equality of the convict.
In the Philippines, the law of the land directs that “excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.”3 The correct imposition of such affects liberty of the convict.
Withal, the Revised Penal Code is meticulous in laying down the guidelines, schemes, and founding rules on how the courts of justice inflict fines, penalties, or both.
Art. 66 and Art. 67 are hereby explained.
What are Articles 66 and 67 of the Revised Penal Code All About
Art. 66. Imposition of fines. — In imposing fines, the courts may fix any amount within the limits established by the law; in fixing the amount in each case attention shall be given, not only to the mitigating and aggravating circumstances but more particularly to the wealth or means of the culprit.4
Art. 67. Penalty to be imposed when not all the requisites of exemption of the fourth circumstance of Article 12 are present. — When all the conditions required in circumstances Number 4 of Article 12 of this Code to exempt from criminal liability are not present, the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon the culprit if he shall have been guilty of a grave felony, and arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if of a less grave felony.5
Explaining the Imposition of Fines
Under the Revised Penal Code, fines shall be fixed by the courts of justice according to the amount within the limits established by law considering the mitigating and aggravating circumstances and more particularly, the wealth or means of the offender.
The Philippine Penal Code has specified each case the minimum as well as the maximum fine. It must be assumed that the Legislature acted advisedly in fixing the minimum as well as the maximum of the fine in some cases and in not fixing any minimum in other cases.
Nevertheless, when the minimum is not fixed, the determination of the fine to be imposed is left to the sound discretion of the courts, provided, of course, that it shall not exceed the maximum authorized by law.6
In the exercise of the court’s power to fix fines, it may consider the attending mitigating, aggravating circumstances, and other factors such as the gravity of the crime committed, the heinousness of its perpetration, and the magnitude of its effects on the victims.7
These circumstances may affect the diminishing or increasing of the fine to be imposed. In Nizurtado vs. Sandiganbayan,8 the Court reduced the penalty from Php 10,000 to Php 2,000, in view of voluntary surrender and restitution as mitigating circumstances.9
Hence, what may be controlling is the wealth or means of the felon in consideration of the determination of the fine. It is a rule of equality in imposing penalty before the law, as Php5,000 has a different weight on a poor man compared to a rich man who can afford it without a doubt.
To impose the same amount of a fine for the same offense upon two persons thus differently circumstanced would be to mete out to them a penalty of unequal severity and, hence, unjustly discriminatory.10
This is why a fine shall be equivalent to a multiple of the average daily income of the offender but in no case lower than the daily minimum wage of the place where the crime is committed, or the value of the property, in cases of property crimes.11
Elements of Accident are not all Present
Under Article 12, Paragraph 4 of Revised Penal Code, one is exempted from criminal liability when the injury is caused by mere accident, where the following requisites concur:
- A person is performing a lawful act12
- With due care13
- He causes injury to another by mere accident14
- Without fault or intention to cause injury15
However, if the abovementioned requisites have not complied, an accident cannot be taken as an exempting circumstance, hence, caused by negligence or imprudence.16
Consequently, the penalty shall be arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in minimum period.
This is similar to the penalty of Art. 365 of the Code, which provides that:
“x x x x . . . . any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed.”17
In People vs. Nocum,18 the penalty imposed on the appellant is within Article 365, Rev. Penal Code and Act No. 4103, the exempting circumstance of an accident is not appreciated. The appellant is found guilty of homicide through reckless negligence.19
The slaying having been unintentional, it is apparent the defendant wilfully discharged his gun — for which he exhibited no license, by the way — without taking the precautions demanded by the circumstance that the district was populated, and the likehood that his bullet would glance over the hard pavement of the Manila thoroughfare.20
Generally, a fine is a specific kind of penalty but they both are serving the same function.
Article 66 of the Revised Code delineates the procedural framework by which a court determines the appropriate sanction to be imposed.
It is well-established within legal jurisprudence that the imposition of fines is contingent upon the exercise of sound judicial discretion, wherein the courts must duly consider the parameters delineated by the law, the presence of mitigating and aggravating circumstances, as well as other relevant factors.
Of particular significance in this regard is the consideration of the financial resources and means possessed by the individual found culpable.
In Article 67 of the same code, the penalty of an accident through negligence or imprudence shall be arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period.
The same shall be imposed upon the offender if he shall have been guilty of a grave felony, and arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if of a less grave felony.
The penalty is similar to Article 365 thereof, being contrary to the basis of the exempting circumstance under Art. 12, Par. 4 – lawful accident.
Thus, proper imposition of fines and penalties pave way for equality and justice.
- Criminal Code, Department of Justice [Proposed]
- Sec. 19, Art. III 1987 Philippine Constitution
- Article 66, Revised Penal Code
- Article 67, Revised Penal Code
- People vs. Quinto., G.R. No. L-40934,August 16, 1934
- Reyes, Revised Penal Code, Book 1, 2021
- G.R. No. 107383, December 7, 1994
- People vs. Ching Kuan, G.R. No. L-48515, November 11, 1942
- Supra., Criminal Code [Proposed]
- Article 12 Par. 4, Revised Penal Code
- Article 365, Revised Penal Code
- People vs. Nocum, G.R. No. L-482, February 25, 1947