Penalty for bigamy
"I did not know that Jim, whom I married in 2007, had a previous marriage in 2003. Jim’s former wife initiated a complaint against us before the barangay. During the scheduled confrontation, she demanded that Jim should give her a certain amount of money and she will keep quiet or else she will file a criminal case for bigamy against us. She further stated that if the criminal case will push through, Jim and I may be incarcerated from 6 years to 12 years. Is this correct?
The statement of Jim’s former wife that both of you may be incarcerated for the duration of six (6) years up to twelve (12) years as a penalty for bigamy is partially correct. Such penalty is imposed only upon the principal in bigamy. This is in consonance with Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) of the Philippines which states that “the penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.” Relative thereto, paragraph 3 of Article 27 of the RPC states that “the duration of penalties of prision mayor and temporary disqualification shall be from six years and one day to twelve years, xxx xxx xxx”.In Santiago vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 200233, July 15, 2015), the Supreme Court through Honorable former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno stated that:
“Given that petitioner knew of the first marriage, this Court concurs with the ruling that she was validly charged with bigamy. However, we disagree with the lower courts’ imposition of the principal penalty on her. To recall, the RTC, which the CA affirmed, meted out to her the penalty within the range of prision correctional as minimum to prision mayor as maximum.Her punishment as a principal to the crime is wrong. Archilla holds that the second spouse, if indicted in the crime of bigamy, is liable only as an accomplice. In referring to Viada, Justice Luis B. Reyes, an eminent authority in criminal law, writes that “a person, whether man or woman, who knowingly consents or agrees to be married to another already bound in lawful wedlock is guilty as an accomplice in the crime of bigamy.” Therefore, her conviction should only be that for an accomplice to the crime.
Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the penalty for a principal in the crime of bigamy is prision mayor, which has a duration of six years and one day to twelve years. Since the criminal participation of petitioner is that of an accomplice, the sentence imposable on her is the penalty next lower in degree, prision correctional, which has a duration of six months and one day to six years. There being neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance, this penalty shall be imposed in its medium period consisting of two years, four months and one day to four years and two months of imprisonment. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, petitioner shall be entitled to a minimum term, to be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, arresto mayor, which has a duration of one month and one day to six months imprisonment.”Applying the above cited decision in your situation, the penalty of arresto mayor is applicable only to the principal in the case of bigamy. The principal is Jim and you are merely an accomplice. Pursuant to Article 18 of the RPC, “accomplices are those persons who, not being included in Article 17, cooperate in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts.” The appropriate penalty for accomplice is that next lower in degree which is prision correctional but the presence of aggravating/mitigating circumstance must also be considered including the application of the indeterminate sentence law to determine the penalty.We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts 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 "
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"Penalty for bigamy"
was written by Mary
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comments. The article was created on 15 September 2021
and updated on 15 September 2021