My brother had a fight with a bystander. He was only able to strike one blow that landed on the person’s face. Unfortunately, one of the front teeth of that person was knocked out and my brother is now facing a complaint for serious physical injuries. May I know if the complaint was proper? We think that there is a bias in the filing of complaint since that bystander was not seriously injured and not even hospitalized.
Dear April S.,
Under Article 263 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the following constitutes the crime of serious physical injuries if as a consequence of the physical injuries, the injured person shall: (1) become insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind; (2) have lost use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost the use of any such member, or shall have become incapacitated for the work in which he was therefore habitually engaged; (3) become deformed or shall have lost any part of his body or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance of the work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety days; or (4) have caused illness or incapacity for labor of the injured person for more than thirty days.
One of the mentioned acts that would amount to serious physical injuries is when the said physical harm has caused deformity to the injured person. The deformity in this case pertains to disfigurement. The loss of teeth if visible and impairs the appearance of the offended party is considered as disfigurement; thus, the offender who caused such a loss may be liable for serious physical injuries. Accordingly, one who unlawfully wounds another is responsible for the consequences of his act. If as a result thereof, the offended party is impaired in his appearance in such a way that the disfigurement cannot be removed by nature, the person causing the injuries is responsible for the disfigurement, and he is not relieved of that responsibility because the offended party might, if he has the means, lessen the disfigurement by some artificial contrivance (People of the Philippines v. Alipio Balubar, G.R. NO. L-40940, October 9, 1934).
Based from the foregoing, your brother may be liable for the crime of serious physical injuries because, as you have stated, his blow, even if it was only a single one, has caused the removal of the bystander’s front teeth, provided that the same is visible and impairs the latter’s appearance and even if he was not seriously injured or confined at the hospital.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary if other facts are stated or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com