Corpus Delicti Meaning

Bar Exam Question (2001)

Corpus Delicti (2001)

At a birthday party in Bogo, Cebu, A got intoxicated and started quarreling with B and C. At the height of their arguments, A left and took a bolo from his house, after which he returned to the party and threatened to stab everybody. B got scared and ran towards the seashore, with A chasing him, B ran up a steep incline along the shore and was cornered on top of a cliff. Out of fear, B jumped from the cliff into the sea, A returned to the scene of their confrontation and seeing that nobody was there, went home to sleep. The next day, B's wife reported to the police station that her husband had not yet come home. A search was conducted by the residents of the barangay but after almost two days, B or his body could not be located and his disappearance continued for the next few days. Based on the testimony of C and other guests, who had seen A and B on top of the cliff, A was arrested and charged with Murder. In his defense, he claimed that since B's body has not been found, there was no evidence of "corpus delicti' and therefore, he should be acquitted. Is the defense of A tenable or not? State the reason(s) for your answer. 

Suggested Answer:

The defense of A is not tenable. "Corpus delicti" does not refer to the body of the purported victim which had not been found. Even without the body of the purported victim being found, the offender can be convicted when the facts and circumstances of a crime, the body of the crime, or "corpus delicti" is established. In other words, the non-recovery of the body of the victim is not a bar to the prosecution of A for Murder, but the fact of death and identity of the victim must be established beyond reasonable doubt.

Bar Exam Question (2000)

Corpus Delicti; Definition & Elements (2000)

a) Define "corpus delicti". 

b) What are the elements of "corpus delicti"? (3%)

Suggested Answer:

a) Corpus Delicti literally means "the body or substance of the crime" or the fact that a crime has been committed, but does not include the identity of the person who committed it. (People vs. Pascual 44 OG 2789).

b) Elements of corpus delicti:

The actual commission by someone of the particular crime charged. It is a compound fact made up of two things:

1. The existence of a certain act or result forming the basis of the criminal charge; and

2. The existence of a criminal agency as the cause of the act or result

3. The identity of the offender is not a necessary element of corpus delicti