How Is Criminal Liability Extinguished?

ART. 89



Extinguishment of criminal liability is a ground for a motion to quash.

Criminal liability whether before or after a final judgment is extinguished upon death because it is a personal penalty.

Pecuniary penalty is extinguished only when death occurs before final judgment.

The death of the offended party however does not extinguish the criminal liability of the accused because it is a crime against the state.

Bar Exam Question (2000)

For defrauding Lorna, Alma was charged before the Municipal Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan. After a protracted trial. Alma was convicted. While the case was pending appeal in the Regional Trial Court of the same province, Lorna who was then suffering from breast cancer, died. Alma manifested to the court that with Lorna's death, her (Alma's) criminal and civil liabilities are now extinguished. Is Alma's contention correct? What if it were Alma who died, would it affect her criminal and civil liabilities? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

No. Alma's contention is not correct. The death of the offended party does not extinguish the criminal liability of the offender, because the offense is committed against the state. (People vs. Misola, 87 Phil. 830,833). Hence, it follows that the civil liability of Alma based on the offense committed by her is not extinguished. The estate of Lorna can continue the case.

On the other hand, if it were Alma who died pending appeal of her conviction, her criminal liability shall be extinguished and therewith the civil liability under the Revised penal Code (Art.89, par. 1, RPC). However, the claim for civil indemnity may be instituted under the Civil Code (Art. 1157) if predicated on a source of obligation other than delicts, such as law, contracts, quasi-contracts, and quasi-delicts. (People vs. Bayotas 236 SCRA 239, G.R. 152007, September 2, 1994)



Crime is a debt, hence extinguished upon payment. Service does not extinguish civil liability.


Amnesty – is an act of the sovereign power granting oblivion or general pardon. It wipes all traces and vestiges of the crime but does not extinguish civil liability.

1. Amnesty; Crimes covered (Bar Exam Question 2006)
2. Pardon vs. Amnesty


Pardon – an act of grace proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of laws, which exempts the individual from the punishment the law inflicts for the crime.

Amnesty From Pardon
1. Amnesty - Extended to classes of persons who may be guilty of political offenses.

    Pardon - Exercised individually by the President

2. Amnesty - Exercised even before trial or investigation

      Pardon - Exercised when one is convicted

   3. Amnesty - Looks backward and  abolishes the offense itself

      Pardon - Looks forward and relieves the offender of
      the consequences

   4. Amnesty - Does not extinguish civil liability
      Pardon - same

   5. Amnesty - A public act that needs the  declaration of the President with the concurrence of Congress

       Pardon - A private act of the President

   6. Amnesty - Courts should take judicial notice

       Pardon - Must be pleaded and proved

Bar Exam Question (1994)

Linda was convicted by the Sandiganbayan of estafa, through falsification of public document. She was sentenced accordingly and ordered to pay, among others, P5,000.00 representing the balance of the amount defrauded. The case reached the Supreme Court which affirmed the judgment of conviction. During the pendency of Linda's motion for reconsideration in the said Court, the President extended to her an absolute pardon which she accepted. By reason of such pardon, she wrote the Department of Finance requesting that she be restored to her former post as assistant treasurer, which is still vacant. The Department ruled that Linda may be reinstated to her former position without the necessity of a new appointment and directed the City Treasurer to see to it that the sum of P5,000.00 be satisfied. Claiming that she should not be made to pay P5,000.00, Linda appealed to the Office of the President. The Office of the President dismissed the appeal and held that acquittal, not absolute pardon is the only ground for reinstatement to one's former position and that the absolute pardon does not exempt the culprit from payment of civil liability. Is Linda entitled to reinstatement?

Suggested Answer:

No, Linda is not entitled to reinstatement to her former position inasmuch as her right thereto had been relinquished or forfeited by reason of her conviction. The absolute pardon merely extinguished her criminal liability, removed her disqualification, and restored her eligibility for appointment to that office. She has to re-apply for such position and under the usual procedure required for a new appointment. Moreover, the pardon does not extinguish the civil liability arising from the crime. (Monsanto vs.Factoran, Jr., 170 SCRA 191); see Art. 36, RPC)


Prescription of a crime – is the loss/forfeiture of the right of the state to prosecute the offender after the lapse of a certain time.

NOTE: When the crime prescribes, the state loses the right to prosecute

1. Crimes punishable by:

a. Death, reclusión perpetua or reclusión temporal – 20 years
b. afflictive penalties – 15 years
c. correctional penalties – 10 years,
d. except those punishable by arresto mayor which shall prescribe in 5 years
2. Crime of libel – 1 year
3. Offenses of oral defamation and slander by deed – 6 months
4. Light offenses – 2 months

When the penalty is a compound one, the highest penalty shall be made the basis of the application of the above rules.

Bar Exam Question (1995)

Joe and Marcy were married in Batanes in 1955. After two years, Joe left Marcy and settled in Mindanao where he later met and married Linda on 12 June 1960. The second marriage was registered in the civil registry of Davao City three days after its celebration. On 10 October 1975 Marcy who remained in Batanes discovered the marriage of Joe to Linda. On 1 March 1976 Marcy filed a complaint for bigamy against Joe.

The crime of bigamy prescribed in fifteen years computed from the day the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents. Joe raised the defense of prescription of the crime, more than fifteen years having elapsed from the celebration of the bigamous marriage up to the filing of Marcy's complaint. He contended that the registration of his second marriage in the civil registry of Davao City was constructive notice to the whole world of the celebration thereof thus binding upon Marcy.

Has the crime of bigamy charged against Joe already prescribed? Discuss fully.

Suggested Answer:

No. The prescriptive period for the crime of bigamy is computed from the time the crime was discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents. The principle of constructive notice which ordinarily applies to land or property disputes should not be applied to the crime of bigamy, as marriage is not property. Thus when Marcy filed a complaint for bigamy on 7 March 1976, it was well within the reglementary period as it was barely a few months from the time of discovery on 10 October 1975. (Sermonia vs. CA, 233 SCRA 155)

Bar Exam Question (2004)

OW is a private person engaged in cattle ranching. One night, he saw AM stab CV treacherously, then throw the dead man's body into a ravine. For 25 years, CVs body was never seen nor found; and OW told no one what he had witnessed. Yesterday after consulting the parish priest, OW decided to tell the authorities what he witnessed and revealed that AM had killed CV 25 years ago. Can AM be prosecuted for murder despite the lapse of 25 years? Reason briefly.

Suggested Answer:

Yes, AM can be prosecuted for murder despite the lapse of 25 years, because the crime has not yet prescribed and legally, its prescriptive period has not even commenced running. The period of prescription of a crime shall commence running only from the day on which the crime has been discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents (Art. 91, Revised Penal Code). OW, a private person who saw the killing but never disclosed it, is not the offended party nor has the crime been discovered by the authorities or their agents.

Bar Exam Question (2001)

On June 1, 1988, a complaint for concubinage committed in February 1987 was filed against Roberto in the Municipal Trial Court of Tanza, Cavite for purposes of preliminary investigation. For various reasons, it was only on July 3, 1998, when the Judge of said court decided the case by dismissing it for lack of jurisdiction since the crime was committed in Manila. The case was subsequently filed with the City Fiscal of Manila but it was dismissed on the ground that the crime had already prescribed. The law provides that the crime of concubinage prescribes in ten (10) years. Was the dismissal by the fiscal correct? Explain.

Suggested Answer:

No, the Fiscal's dismissal of the case on alleged prescription is not correct. The filing of the complaint with the Municipal Trial Court, although only for preliminary investigation, interrupted and suspended the period of prescription in as much as the jurisdiction of a court in a criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information, not by the result of proof. (People vs. Galano. 75 SCRA 193)

Bar Exam Question (1994)

Paolo was charged with homicide before the Regional Trial Court of Manila. Andrew, a prosecution witness, testified that he saw Paolo shoot Abby during their heated argument. While the case is still pending, the City Hall of Manila burned down and the entire records of the case were destroyed. Later, the records were reconstituted. Andrew was again called to the witness stand. This time he testified that his first testimony was false and the truth was he was abroad when the crime took place. The judge immediately ordered the prosecution of Andrew for giving a false testimony favorable to the defendant in a criminal case.

1. Will the case against Andrew prosper?
2. Paolo was acquitted. The decision became final on January 10, 1987. On June 18, 1994 a case of giving false testimony was filed against Andrew. As his lawyer, what legal step will you take?

Suggested Answer:

1. Yes. ...
2. As lawyer of Andrew, I will file a motion to quash the Information on the ground of prescription. The crime of
false testimony under Art. 180 has prescribed because Paolo, the accused in the principal case, was acquitted on
January 10, 1987, and therefore the penalty prescribed for such crime is arresto mayor under Art. 180, par. 4, RPC.

Crimes punishable by arresto mayor prescribes in five (5) years (Art. 90, par. 3, RPC). But the case against Andrew
was filed only on June 18, 1994, whereas the principal criminal case was decided with finality on January 10, 1987
and, thence the prescriptive period of the crime commenced to run. From January 10, 1987, to June 18, 1994 is more than five (5) years.

Bar Exam Question (1997)

A was charged in an information with the crime of grave oral defamation but after trial, the court found him guilty only of the offense of simple slander. He filed a motion for reconsideration contending that, under the law, the crime of simple slander would have prescribed in two months from commission, and since the information against him was filed more than four months after the
alleged commission of the crime, the same had already prescribed. The Solicitor General opposed the motion on two grounds: first, in determining the prescriptive period, the nature of the offense charged in the Information should be considered, not the crime proved; second, assuming that the offense had already prescribed, the defense was waived by the failure of A to raise it in a motion to quash. Resolve the motion for reconsideration.

Suggested Answer:

The motion for reconsideration should be granted.-

a) The accused cannot be convicted of the offense of simple slander although it is necessarily included in the offense of grave slander charged in the information, because, the lesser offense had already prescribed at the time the information was filed (People us. Rarang, (CA) 62 O.G. 6468; Francisco vs. CA, 122 SCRA 538; Magat vs. People. 201 SCRA 21) otherwise prosecutors can easily circumvent the rule of prescription in light offenses by the simple expedient of filing a graver offense which includes such light offense.

b) While the general rule is the failure of an accused to file a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to quash, the exceptions to this are: (1) no offense was charged in the complaint or information; (2) lack of
Jurisdiction; (3) extinction of the offense or penalty; and (4) double jeopardy. Since the ground invoked by the accused in his motion for reconsideration is extinction of the offense, then it can be raised even after plea. In fact, it may even be invoked on appeal (People vs. Balagtas)


NOTE: means the loss/forfeiture of the right of the government to execute the final sentence after the lapse of a certain time.

      1. There must be final judgment.
      2. The period must have elapsed.

1. Death and reclusión perpetua – 20 years
2. Other afflictive penalties – 15 years
3. Correctional penalties – 10 years, except for the penalty of arresto mayor which prescribes in 5 years
4. Light penalties – 1 year



Crimes covered:
1. rape
2. seduction
3. abduction
4. acts of lasciviousness

The marriage must be contracted in good faith.

Bar Exam Question 2006)

Amnesty vs. PD 1160

Can former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman apply for amnesty? How about columnist Randy David? (You are supposed to know the crimes or offenses ascribed to them as published in almost all newspapers for the past several months.)

Suggested Answer:

Proclamation 1160, which amended Proclamation 724, applies only to offenses committed prior to 1999. Thus, their applications shall be ineffectual and useless.

Bar Exam Question (2006)

General Lim and General Querubin of the Scout Rangers and Philippine Marines, respectively, were charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and gentlemen under the Articles of War. Can they apply for amnesty?

Suggested Answer:

Proclamation 1160, which amended Proclamation 724, applies only to offense committed prior to 1999. Thus, their applications shall be ineffectual and useless.