Accessories

Who are Accessories ?

ART.19

Accessories are those who:
1. having knowledge of the commission of the crime, and
2. without having participated therein either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its commission in any of the following acts:
a. By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.
b. Assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.
c. By concealing or destroying the body of the crime to prevent its discovery.

In profiting by the effects of the crime, the accessory must receive the property from the principal. He should not take it without the consent of the principal. If he took it without the consent of the principal, he is not an accessory but a principal in the crime of theft.

EXAMPLE:
PAR. 1 - person received and used property from another, knowing it was stolen
               Read: Illustrative case, 1998 Bar Exam Question
PAR. 2 - placing a weapon in the hand of the dead who was unlawfully killed to plant evidence, or burying the deceased who was killed by the principals
PAR. 3 -
a) public officers who harbor, conceal or assist in the escape of the principal of any crime (not light felony) with abuse of his public functions.
b) private persons who harbor, conceal or assist in the escape of the author of the crime – guilty of
treason, parricide, murder or an attempt against the life of the President, or who is known to be habitually guilty of some crime.

GENERAL RULE: If the Principal is acquitted the Accessory is also acquitted. The responsibility of the accessory is subordinate to that of the principal in a crime.

Exception: When the crime was in fact committed by the principal, but the principal is covered by exempting circumstances (Art 12) and as a result he is not held liable. However, it is possible that the accessory may still be held liable even if the principal was acquitted by an exempting circumstance.

Trial of accessory may proceed without awaiting the result of the separate charge against the principal because the criminal responsibilities are distinct from each other.

Two classes of accessories contemplated in par. 3 of art. 19
1. PUBLIC officers, who harbor, conceal or assist in the escape of the principal of any crime (not light felony) with abuse of his public functions.

Requisites:
1. The accessory is a public officer.
2. He harbors, conceals, or assists in the escape of the principal.
3. The public officer acts with abuse of his public functions.
4. The crime committed by the principal is any crime, provided it is not a light felony.

2. PRIVATE persons who harbor, conceal or assist in the escape of the author of the crime who is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or attempts against the life of the President, or who is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime.

Requisites:
1. The accessory is a private person.
2. He harbors, conceals or assists in the escape of the author of the crime.
3. The crime committed by the principal is either:
a. Treason,
b. Parricide,
c. Murder,
d. An attempt against the life of the President, or
e. That the principal is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime.

Neither the letter nor the spirit of the law requires that the principal be convicted before one may be punished as an accessory. As long as the corpus delicti is proved and the accessory’s participation as such is shown, he can be held criminally responsible and meted out the corresponding penalty (Inovero vs. Coronel, CA, 65 O.G.3160).

The prescribed acts of the accessory under par.2 must have been intended to prevent the discovery of the crime, hence, mere silence does not make one an accessory. If, however, the crime involved is a conspiracy to commit treason, his silence may hold him liable for misprision of treason (Art. 116) but as a principal thereof.

Where the accused misleads the authorities by giving them false information, such act is equivalent to concealment and he should be held as an accessory.

Principal Distinguished from Accessory
1. Principal - Takes direct part or cooperates in, or induces the commission of the crime.

Accessory - Does NOT take direct part or cooperates in, or induces the commission of the crime.

2. Principal - cooperates in the commission of the offense by acts either prior thereto or simultaneous therewith.

Accessory - does not take part in the commission of the offense.

3. Principal - Participates during commission of the crime.

Accessory - Participation of the accessory in all cases always SUBSEQUENT to the commission of the crime.


2004 Bar Exam Question (Criminal Liability;Non-Exemption as Accessory)

DCB, the daughter of MCB, stole the earrings of XYZ, a stranger. MCB pawned the earrings with TBI pawnshop as a pledge for Php500 loan. During the trial, MCB raised the defense that being the mother of DCB, she cannot be held liable as an accessory.

Will MCB's defense prosper? Reason briefly.

No, MCB's defense will not prosper because the exemption from criminal liability of an accessory by virtue of relationship with the principal does not cover accessories who themselves profited from or assisted the offender to profit by the effects or proceeds of the crime. This non-exemption of an accessory, though related to the principal of the crime, is expressly provided in Art.20 of the Revised Penal Code.

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