What case can I file against my former housemate who took my cellphone worth P18,000 when I left it on top of our dining table? I have evidence and witnesses to prove that she used my cellphone in paying off her debt. For how long will she be imprisoned for her criminal act?
The act of your former housemate in taking your cellphone constitutes theft which is defined under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:
“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.”
You may file a complaint for theft against your housemate who took your cellphone before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where your cellphone was stolen. To successfully prosecute her 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).
The penalty for the crime of theft shall depend upon the value of the thing stolen. Since the value of your cellphone is P18,000, the penalty to be meted out to the person liable to the theft is that which is provided in Article 309 par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:
“Article 309. Penalties. – Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than P12,000 but does not exceed P22,000, but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional P10,000, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.”
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