What case can I file against my family member who stole my cash amounting to P6,000.00 from my wallet when I accidentally left it?
Dear SKS, PAO
The act of your family member in stealing your money amounting to six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) from your wallet when you accidentally left it constitutes the crime of theft, which is defined and penalized under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC):
“Article 308. Who are liable for theft. – Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latter’s consent.”
However, since the person who took your cash is related to you, he may be exempted from the criminal liability of his act. Article 332 of the RPC enumerates the persons who are exempted from criminal liability in crimes against property such as theft, to wit:
“Article 332. Persons exempt from criminal liability. – No criminal, but only civil liability, shall result from the commission of the crime of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons:
1. Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line;
2. The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to the deceased spouse before the same shall have passed into the possession of another; and
3. Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, if living together.
“The exemption established by this article shall not be applicable to strangers participating in the commission of the crime.”
If the one who took your cash is one of the aforementioned persons, you cannot file a criminal complaint against him for his act since his liability to you is civil in nature only. On the other hand, if he is not among the persons enumerated, you may file a criminal complaint for theft against him before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where he stole your cash. To successfully prosecute him of the crime of theft, you must prove the following elements: 1) that there be taking of personal property; 2) that said property belongs to another; 3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; 4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; 5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things (Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code (Book Two), 14th Edition, page 686). Once you have proven his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, he may be meted out the penalty of imprisonment of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (Article 309, Revised Penal Code).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed 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 firstname.lastname@example.org