Saturday, August 15, 2015

Robbery vs. Theft; distinctions.


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Robbery vs. Theft

On the second and third issues, Article 293 of the RPC defines robbery as a crime committed by “any person who, with intent to gain, shall take any personal property belonging to another, by means of violence against or intimidation of any person, or using force upon anything.” Robbery with homicide occurs when, by reason or on occasion of the robbery, the crime of homicide shall have been committed5.  In Article 249 of the RPC, any person who shall kill another shall be deemed guilty of homicide. Homicide, as used in robbery with homicide, is to be understood in its generic sense to include parricide and murder.6  The penalty for the crime of robbery with homicide is reclusion perpetua to death.7 

Theft, on the other hand, is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take the personal property of another without the latter’s consent⁠8. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods is imposed upon persons guilty of theft, if the value of the thing stolen is more than P200 but does not exceed P6,000. 

By definition in the RPC, robbery can be committed in three ways, by using: (a) violence against any person; (b) intimidation of any person; and/or (c) force upon anything. Robbery by use of force upon things is provided under Articles 299 to 305 of the RPC.

The main issue is whether the snatching of the shoulder bag in this case is robbery or theft. Did Concepcion employ violence or intimidation upon persons, or force upon things, when he snatched Acampado’s shoulder bag?

In People v. Dela Cruz,9  this Court found the accused guilty of theft for snatching a basket containing jewelry, money and clothing, and taking off with it, while the owners had their backs turned.

In People v. Tapang,10  this Court affirmed the conviction of the accused for frustrated theft because he stole a white gold ring with diamond stones from the victim’s pocket, which ring was immediately or subsequently recovered from the accused at or about the same time it was stolen.

In People v. Omambong,11  the Court distinguished robbery from theft. The Court held:

Had the appellant then run away, he would undoubtedly have been guilty of theft only, because the asportation was not effected against the owner’s will, but only without his consent; although, of course, there was some sort of force used by the appellant in taking the money away from the owner.

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What the record does show is that when the offended party made an attempt to regain his money, the appellant’s companions used violence to prevent his succeeding.

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The crime committed is therefore robbery and not theft, because personal violence was brought to bear upon the offended party before he was definitely deprived of his money.⁠12 

The prosecution failed to establish that Concepcion used violence, intimidation or force in snatching Acampado’s shoulder bag. Acampado herself merely testified that Concepcion snatched her shoulder bag which was hanging on her left shoulder. Acampado did not say that Concepcion used violence, intimidation or force in snatching her shoulder bag. Given the facts, Concepcion’s snatching of Acampado’s shoulder bag constitutes the crime of theft, not robbery. 

Concepcion’s crime of theft was aggravated by his use of a motorcycle in committing the crime. Under Article 14(20) of the RPC, the use of a motor vehicle as a means of committing a crime is a generic aggravating circumstance. Thus, the maximum period of the penalty for the crime of theft shall be imposed upon Concepcion due to the presence of a generic aggravating circumstance and the absence of any mitigating circumstance.

Based on the RTC Decision’s statement of facts which was affirmed by the CA, Concepcion’s co-conspirator, Rosendo Ogardo, Jr. y Villegas (Ogardo), who was driving the motorcycle, died because he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed in front of de Felipe’s taxi. Since Concepcion, as passenger in the motorcycle, did not perform or execute any act that caused the death of Ogardo, Concepcion cannot be held liable for homicide.

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