Voluntary surrender may result in reduction of imposable penalty

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I heard rumors that my brother was suspected of stealing construction materials in the renovation of the house of my neighbor. Eventually, Miss Rosita, owner of the house, filed a complaint against my brother before the Prosecutor’s Office. The complaint filed is still with the Prosecutor’s Office. Thus, I asked my brother if he really committed the crime charged against him. He admitted to me that he stole the materials for the enrolment of his children. I advised him that he should surrender to the nearest police district office. I would like to ask about the possible implication should my brother voluntarily surrender before the warrant of arrest is issued against him. Is there any possibility that he may be exonerated of the crime charged and pay for the damages caused instead?
Pablo

Dear Pablo,
The possible implication of your brother’s voluntary surrender to a person in authority is that it may be considered as a mitigating circumstance of the crime charged, and as a consequence, it will lower the imposable penalty for the crime charged.

Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code clearly specifies that a voluntary surrender to a person in authority or his agents is one of the mitigating circumstances that reduces the penalty for the crime charged, to wit:

“Article 13. Mitigating circumstances. – The following are mitigating circumstances:


xxx

7. That the offender had voluntarily surrendered himself to a person in authority or his agents, or that he had voluntarily confessed his guilt before the court prior to the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution;

Xxx” (Emphasis supplied)

In order to consider the voluntary surrender as a mitigating circumstance, however, the Supreme Court in the case of Rosario T. de Vera vs. Geren A. de Vera (G.R. No. 172832, April 7, 2009), penned by former Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, explained that the following requisites should be present: 1) the offender has not been actually arrested; 2) the offender surrendered himself to a person in authority or the latter’s agent; 3) the surrender was voluntary; and 4) there is no pending warrant of arrest or information filed. It also noted that the circumstances of the surrender must show that it was made spontaneously and in a manner clearly indicating the intent of the accused to surrender unconditionally, either because he acknowledges his guilt or he wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense that will necessarily be incurred in searching for and capturing him.

Applying the foregoing to your case and considering that there is no warrant of arrest issued, nor information filed before the competent court where the crime has been committed, your brother’s voluntary surrender may be appreciated as a mitigating circumstance that may result in the reduction of the imposable penalty provided by law.

We find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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