My parents are gone and being the oldest child, my siblings agreed that I will be the custodian of all certificates of title of their pieces of property. One of our siblings, however, who is so greedy, got one of the certificates without my permission during the celebration of the death anniversary of our father in my house and now he is refusing to return it. I want to pursue a case against him. What is the proper case to file? Is it theft or robbery?
The crimes of theft and robbery are both punishable under Crimes Against Property of Title XX of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Both crimes pertain to the taking of personal property of another without the latter’s consent and with intent to gain. If the taking was committed without violence against, or intimidation of persons or force upon things, the crime committed is theft pursuant to Article 308 of the RPC. On the other hand, if the taking was committed with violence against, or intimidation of persons or force upon things, the proper crime to be charged is robbery pursuant to Article 293 of the same law.
The crimes of theft and robbery, however, are not the proper cases that may be filed against your sibling who, according to you, had got one of the certificates of title pertaining to the pieces of property of your deceased parents without your permission. One of the elements of theft and robbery is the taking of personal property of another and this essential element for both crimes are lacking in your case. It is important to note that the pieces of property covered by the certificates of title in your possession belong to your deceased parents. As such, these are co-owned by you and your siblings. The co-ownership of these pieces of property is based on your right as successor or heir of your parents. Since these pieces of property have not yet been divided, you and your siblings have the equal right over each of the pieces of property. Thus, being a co-owner of what were left by your parents, you cannot file a case either for theft or robbery against the sibling who allegedly got one of the certificates of titles in your care.
We suggest that you file a case for partition in court instead. This case for partition shall have the effect of dividing all the pieces of property of your parents to the latter’s heirs thereby preventing incidents like what happened during the commemoration of the death anniversary of your father. Nevertheless, you may try to have a settlement on your own, wherein you may agree by yourselves the division of these pieces of property through the execution of a deed of extra-judicial settlement.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.
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