Conspiracy, Co-Conspirator | 1998 Bar Exam Question

Juan and Arturo devised a plan to murder Joel. In a narrow alley near Joel's house, Juan will hide behind the big lamppost and shoot Joel when the latter passes through on his way to work. Arturo will come from the other end of the alley and simultaneously shoot Joel from behind.

On the appointed day, Arturo was apprehended by the authorities before reaching the alley. When Juan Shot Joel as planned, he was unaware that Arturo was arrested earlier.

Discuss the criminal liability of Arturo, if any.

Suggested Answer:

Arturo, being one of the two who devised the plan to murder Joel, thereby becomes a co-principal by direct conspiracy. What is needed only is an overt act and both will incur criminal liability.

Arturo's liability as a conspirator arose from his participation in jointly devising the criminal plan with Juan, to kill Jose. And it was pursuant to that conspiracy that Juan killed Joel.

The conspiracy here is actual, not by inference only. The overt act was done pursuant to that conspiracy whereof Arturo is co-conspirator. There being a conspiracy, the act of one  is the act of all.

Arturo therefore, should be liable as a co-conspirator but the penalty on him may be that of an accomplice only. (People vs. Nierra, 96 SCRA 1; People vs. Medrano, 114 SCRA 335) because he was not able to actually participate in the shooting of Joel, having been apprehended before reaching the place where the crime was committed.

Alternative Answer:

Arturo is not liable because he was not able to participate in the killing of Joel. Conspiracy itself is not punishable unless expressly provided  by law and this is not true in the case of murder. A co-conspirator must perform an overt act pursuant to the conspiracy.