I am being sued for slight physical injuries. But I did not intend to hurt the person because I was only protecting a beggar whom he was mauling at that time. Can I use the defense that I only helped the beggar to clear my name in the criminal case?
The crime of slight physical injuries is punishable by one day to 30 days of imprisonment (arresto menor) or payment of fine (Article 266, Revised Penal Code). However, the accused is considered not to have incurred any criminal liabilities, and thus, he shall not be punished with the penalty for the crime of slight physical injuries if his act is one of the justifying circumstances mentioned under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code.
Defense of a stranger is one of the justifying circumstances under the law. Thus, a person who acts in defense of a stranger incurs no criminal liability. Defense of a beggar may be considered as defense of a stranger and is governed by Paragraph 3 of Article 11 of the said law, to wit:
Anyone who acts in defense of the person or rights of a stranger, provided that first and second requisites mentioned in the first circumstance of this article are present and that the person defending be not induced by revenge, resentment or other evil motive.
In relation to this, Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the RPC provides:
Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights provided that the following circumstances concur: Unlawful aggression; Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
Based from the foregoing, you may use defense of a stranger in your criminal complaint to be exonerated from criminal liability since, as you stated, you merely hurt the complainant because you protected the beggar whom he was mauling. However, you can only be successful in invoking defense of a stranger if the requisites under Article 11 of the Revised Penal Code are present. As stated, there must be unlawful aggression on the part of the complainant and that you have employed only the reasonable means to prevent or repel the said aggression. It is likewise important that you are not induced by revenge, resentment or other evil motive in making the defense.
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