Under the Revised Penal Code, when more than one person
participated in the commission of the crime, the law looks into
their participation because in punishing offenders, the Revised
Penal Code classifies them as:
This classification is true only under the Revised Penal Code
and is not applied under special laws, because the penalties
under the latter are never graduated.
Do not use the term “principal” when the crime committed is a
violation of special law (use the term “offender/s, culprit/s,
As to the liability of the participants in a grave, less grave
or light felony:
1. When the felony is grave, or less grave, all participants are
2. But where the felony is only light, only the principal and
the accomplice are liable. The accessory is not.
Therefore, it is only when the light felony is against persons
or property that criminal liability attaches to the principal
or accomplice, even though the felony is only attempted or
frustrated, but accessories are not liable for light felonies.
Note that accessories are not liable for light felonies.
REASON: In the commission of light felonies, the social wrong
as well as the individual prejudice is so small that penal
sanction is unnecessary.
The classification of the offenders as principal, accomplice
or an accessory is essential under the RPC. The classification
maybe applied to special laws only if the latter provides for
the same graduated penalties as those provided under the RPC.
There Are Two Parties In All Crimes:
1. Active subject (the criminal)
Art. 16 enumerates the active subjects of the crime.
2. Passive subject (the injured party) Is the holder of the
injured right: the man, the juristic person, the group, and
Note: Only natural persons can be the active subject of crime
because of the highly personal nature of the criminal
However, corporation and partnership can be a passive subject of
GENERALLY: Corpses and animals cannot be passive subjects
because they have no rights that may be injured.
EXCEPTION: Under Art. 253, the crime of defamation may be
committed if the imputation tends to blacken the memory of
one who is dead.
This article applies only when the offenders are to be judged
by their individual, and not collective, liability.