Acts of lewdness should have element of force

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Persida Acosta

Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My friend is being accused by his barangay of committing acts of lasciviousness when he was caught making out with his girlfriend in the town park. Considering that my friend and his girlfriend are more than 18 years old, and they both mutually engaged in a public display of affection, we want to ask if our barangay is correct in accusing that my friend committed acts of lasciviousness. What case, if any, may be filed against my friend for his actions? We hope for your advice. Thanks!
Hannah

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Dear Hannah,
To answer your question, we must refer to what the law says about the crime of acts of lasciviousness. According to the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines:

Art. 336. Acts of lasciviousness. — Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex, under any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by prision correccional.

The definition of acts of lasciviousness is committing any act of lewdness under any of the circumstances that include: the lack of consent, presence of force or intimidation, deprivation of reason or consciousness of the victim and being committed against a person under 12 years of age. Basing from these circumstances, we can infer whether or not your friend indeed committed acts of lasciviousness.

From your narration, it is clear that your friend is in a relationship with a woman who is of legal age and who consented to their act of public display of affection. Considering these details, it is clear that none of the elements in the crime of acts of lasciviousness is present in the situation of your friend. As such, your friend did not commit the crime of acts of lasciviousness. Therefore, your barangay is mistaken in accusing him of such a crime.

However, your friend and his girlfriend may instead be charged with the crime of grave scandal if their actions, which were committed in public, can be considered as highly scandalous and offensive to morals and good customs. Grave scandal is defined by law as:

Art. 200. Grave scandal. — The penalties of arresto mayor and public censure shall be imposed upon any person who shall offend against decency or good customs by any highly scandalous conduct not expressly falling within any other article of this Code. (Revised Penal Code of the Philippines)

Thus, depending on the extent of the public display of affection committed by your friend and his girlfriend, they may be charged with the crime of grave scandal if what they did in public was highly scandalous and offensive to good morals. But as earlier stated, it is clear that your friend did not commit the crime of acts of lasciviousness.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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