alternative circumstances
Alternative Circumstances

Alternative Circumstances – Those which must be taken into consideration as aggravating or mitigating according to the nature and effects of the crime and the other conditions attending its commission. (Art.15)

The nature and effects of the crime and the other conditions attending its commission.

The Alternative Circumstances Are:
1. Relationship;
2. Intoxication; and
3. Degree of instruction and education of the offender.

The alternative circumstance of relationship shall be taken into consideration when the offended party is the –
1. Spouse,
2. Ascendant,
3. Descendant,
4. Legitimate, natural, or adopted brother or sister, or
5. Relative by affinity in the same degree of the offender.

Other Relatives Included (By Analogy):
1. The relationship of stepfather or stepmother and stepson or stepdaughter.

REASON: It is the duty of the step-parents to bestow upon their stepchildren a mother’s/father’s affection, care and protection.

2. The relationship of adopted parent and adopted child.

NOTE: But the relationship of uncle and niece is not covered by any of the relationship mentioned.

When Relationship Mitigating And When Aggravating:
1. As a rule, relationship is mitigating in crimes against property, by analogy to the provisions of Art. 332.
Thus, relationship is mitigating in the crimes of robbery (Arts. 294-302), usurpation (Art. 312), fraudulent insolvency (Art. 314) and arson (Arts. 321-322, 325-326).

2. In crimes against persons –
a) It is aggravating where the offended party is a relative of
(1). a higher degree than the offender, or
(2). when the offender and the offended party are relatives of the same level (e.g. brothers)

b) But when it comes to physical injuries:
(1). It is aggravating when the crime involves serious physical injuries (Art.263), even if the offended
party is a descendant of the offender. But the serious physical injuries must not be inflicted by a parent upon his child by excessive chastisement.
(2). It is mitigating when the offense committed is less serious physical injuries or slight physical injuries, if the offended party is a relative of a lower degree.
(3). It is aggravating if the offended party is a relative of a higher degree of the offender.

c) When the crime is homicide or murder, relationship is aggravating even if the victim of the crime is a relative of a lower degree.

d) In rape, relationship is aggravating where a stepfather raped his stepdaughter or in a case where a father raped his own daughter.

3. In crimes against chastity, like acts of lasciviousness (Art. 336), relationship is always aggravating, regardless of whether the offender is a relative of a higher or lower degree of the offended party. When the qualification given to the crime is derived from the relationship between the offender and the offended party, it is neither mitigating nor aggravating, because it is inseparable from and inherent in the offense. (e.g. parricide, adultery and concubinage).

Intoxication - When Intoxication Mitigating And When Aggravating:
1. Mitigating –
a. If intoxication is not habitual, or
b. If intoxication is not subsequent to the plan to commit a felony.
2. Aggravating –
a. If intoxication is habitual, or
b. If it is intentional (subsequent to the plan to commit a felony).

To Be Entitled To The Mitigating Circumstance Of Intoxication, It Must Be Shown:
1. That at the time of the commission of the criminal act, the accused has taken such quantity of alcoholic drinks as to blur his reason and deprive him of a certain degree of
control, and
2. That such intoxication is not habitual, or subsequent to the plan to commit the felony.

To be mitigating, the accused’s state of intoxication must be proved. Once intoxication is established by satisfactory evidence, in the absence of proof to the contrary, it is presumed to be non-habitual or unintentional.

2000 Bar Exam Question (Non-Intoxication)

Despite the massive advertising campaign in media against firecrackers and gun-firing during the New Year's celebrations, Jonas and Jaja bought ten boxes of super lolo and pla-pla in Bocaue, Bulacan. Before midnight of December 31, 1999, Jonas and Jaja started their celebration by having a drinking spree at Jona's place by exploding their high-powered firecrackers in their neighborhood. In the course of their conversation, Jonas confided to Jaja that he has been keeping a long-time grudge against his neighbor Jepoy in view of the latter's refusal to lend him some money. While under the influence of liquor, Jonas started throwing lighted super lolos inside Jepoy's fence to irritate him and the same exploded inside the latter's yard. Upon knowing that the throwing of the super lolo was deliberate, Jepoy became furious and sternly warned Jonas to stop his malicious act or he would get what he wanted.A heated argument between Jonas and Jepoy ensued but Jaja tried to calm down his friend. At midnight, Jonas convinced Jaja to lend him his .45 caliber pistol so that he could use it to knock down Jepoy and to end his arrogance. Jonas thought that after all, explosions were everywhere and nobody would know who shot Jepoy. After Jaja lent his firearm to Jonas, the latter again started throwing lighted super lolos and pla-plas at Jepoy's yard in order to provoke him so that he would come out of his house. When Jepoy came out, Jonas immediately shot him with Jaja's .45 caliber gun but missed his target. Instead, the bullet hit Jepoy's five year old son who was following behind him, killing the boy instantaneously.

a. What crime or crimes can Jonas and Jaja be charged with? Explain.

b. If you were Jonas' and Jaja's lawyer, what possible defenses would you set up in favor of your clients? Explain.

a. Jonas and Jaja, can be charged with the complex crime of attempted murder with homicide because a single act caused a less grave and and a grave felony.(Art.48 RPC)

b. If I were Jonas' and Jaja's lawyer, I will use the following defenses:

1. That the accused had no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed as they merely intended to frighten Jepoy.

2. That Jonas committed the crime in a state of intoxication  thereby impairing his will power or capacity to understand the wrongfulness of his act. Non-intentional intoxication is a mitigating circumstance (People vs. Fortich, 281 SCRA 600 (1997); Art.15, RPC).

2002 Bar Examination Question (Alternative Circumstances;Intoxication)

A was invited to a drinking spree by friends. After having had a drink too many, A and B had a heated argument, during which A stabbed B. As a result, B suffered serious physical injuries.

May the intoxication of A be considered aggravating or mitigating?

The intoxication of A may be prima facie considered mitigating since it was merely incidental to the commission of the crime. It may not be considered aggravating as there is no clear indication from the facts of the case that it was habitual or intentional on the part of A. Aggravating circumstances are not to be presumed; they should be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Instruction or Education
As an alternative circumstance it does not refer only to literacy but more to the level of intelligence of the accused.

Refers to the lack or presence of sufficient intelligence and knowledge of the full significance of one’s acts.

Low degree of instruction and education or lack of it is generally mitigating. High degree of instruction and education is aggravating, when the offender took advantage of his learning
in committing the crime.

GENERAL RULE: Lack of sufficient education is mitigating
1. Crimes against property (e.g. arson, estafa, theft, robbery)
2. Crimes against chastity, and
3. Treason – because love of country should be a natural feeling of every citizen, however unlettered or uncultured he may be.