ACCESSORY TO A CRIME

LAW EACH WEEK

Who is an accessory to a crime?

Under Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code, an accessory is a person who does not participate in the criminal design, nor cooperate in the commission of the felony, but with knowledge of the commission of the crime, he subsequently takes part in three ways by:

(1) Profiting or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime;

(2) Concealing or destroying the body of the crime to prevent its discovery; and

(3) Harboring, concealing or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime.

What is the body of the crime?

The body of the crime is also known as Corpus delicti. It refers to the fact of the commission of the crime, not to the physical body of the deceased. It may be proven by the credible testimony of a sole witness, not necessarily by physical evidence.

Can an accessory be held criminally liable without the principal being found guilty?

No, a person does not become criminally liable by merely harboring or assisting in the escape of an innocent man.

What is the criminal liability of an accessory?

An accessory is exempt from criminal liability, when the principal is his: (1) Spouse; (2) Ascendant; (3)Descendant; (4)Legitimate, natural, or adopted (brother, sister or relative by affinity within the same degree. (However, the foregoing enumeration is not exempt even if the principal is related to him if he/ she profited by the effects of the crime or assisted the offender to profit from the effects of the crime.

Are Nephews and nieces included in the exemption?

No, nephews and nieces are not in the same degree as the ascendants and descendants. Ascendant and descendants are in the first degree, while nephews and nieces are in the third degree.