2013 (Criminal Law) Bar Exam Questions: Multiple Choice Question 7

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The death of the accused extinguishes his criminal liability but civil liability is not extinguished __________. (0.5%)

(A) when the death of the accused occurred before conviction

(B) when the death of the accused occurred after conviction and after he has perfected his appeal from conviction

(C) when the death of the accused occurred during the pendency of his appeal

(D) when the death of the accused occurred after final judgment

(E) None of the above.


  1. D. Generally, death extinguishes criminal liability as to personal penalties. As to pecuniary penalties, liability is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.
    Art. 33 (based on contracts). Even if the accused dies pending appeal, the right to file a separate civil action is not lost.
    The Code express provides that death of the convict, as to the personal penalties and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.

    The Effect of the Death of the Accused on His Civil Liability
    In a separate concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Aquino in People v. Satorre, the effect of the death of the accused on his civil liability may be deduced from the following rules:
    1. Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable (Art. 100, Revised Penal Code). When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless the offended party expressly waives the civil action or reserves his right to institute it separately (Sec. 1, Rule 111, Rules of Court).
    2. The plaintiff in the criminal action is the State. Its purpose is to obtain a judgment of conviction imposing the corresponding penalty for the vindication of the disturbance to the social order caused by the offender. On the other hand, a private person is the plaintiff in the civil action. The satisfaction of the civil liability does not extinguish the criminal action. Extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise did not exist (Sec. 3[c], Rule 111, Rules of Court).
    3. Although the criminal and civil actions may be joined in the criminal case, they are distinct from each other. The plaintiffs in two actions are distinct and the objectives of the two actions are different.
    Thus, even if the accused started serving his sentence within the fifteen-day period from the promulgation of the judgment of conviction by the lower court, thereby making the judgment against him final, the complainant may, within the fifteen-day reglementary period, still ask that the civil liability be fixed by the court, if the judgment does not adjudicate any civil liability. In that case, the trial court has jurisdiction to adjudge the civil liability although the judgment imposing the penalty is already final and cannot be altered by the court anymore .
    4. The extinction of the civil liability is governed by the rules of the civil law regarding obligations (Art. 112, Revised Penal Code).
    5. Actions to recover damages for an injury to person or property, real or personal, may be commenced against an executor or administrator. For the recovery or protection of the property or rights of the deceased, an executor or administrator may bring or defend, in the right of the deceased, actions for causes which survive. As to ordinary money claims, if the defendant dies before final judgment in the Court of First Instance, the claims should be dismissed and may be prosecuted under Rule 87 of the Rules of Court (Sec. 21, Rule 3, Rules of Court).
    The corollary is that if death occurs after final judgment by the Court of First Instance, the action may be continued but the proper substitution of party defendant should be made under section 17 of Rule 3.

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