by Tristan

US v. AH CHONG, GR No. 5272, 1910-03-19

Facts:

The defendant, Ah  Chong, was employed as a cook  at "Officers' quarters,  No. 27," Fort McKinley, Rizal Province, and at the  same place Pascual Gualberto,  deceased, was employed as a house boy or muchacho.

On the night of August 14, 1908, at about 10 o'clock, the defendant, who had  retired for the  night, was  suddenly awakened by someone trying to force open the door of the room.  He sat up  in bed and  called out twice,  "Who  is... there?"   He heard no answer and was convinced by the noise at the door that it was being  pushed open by someone bent upon forcing his way into the room.

the defendant, fearing that the  intruder was a robber or a thief, leaped to his feet and called out. "If you enter the room, I  will kill  you."

Seizing a common kitchen knife which he  kept under his pillow, the defendant struck out wildly at the intruder who, it  afterwards... turned  out, was his  roommate,  Pascual.

Seeing that Pascual was wounded,... he called to his employers... and ran back to his room to  secure bandages to bind up Pascual's wounds.

There  had been several  robberies in Fort McKinley not long prior to the date of the  incident just described,... and as defendant alleges, it was because of these repeated... robberies he kept a knife under his pillow for his personal protection.

The defendant was charged with the crime of assassination,  tried, and  found guilty by the trial court of simple homicide

Issues:

whether in this jurisdiction one can be held criminally responsible who, by  reason of a mistake as to the facts, does an  act for which  he would be exempt from criminal liability if the facts were as he... supposed them to  be, but which would constitute the crime of  homicide or assassination if the actor had known the true state of the facts at the time when he committed the act.

Ruling:

under such... circumstances there is no  criminal  liability,  provided  always that the alleged ignorance or mistake of fact was not due to negligence or bad faith.

In broader terms, ignorance or mistake of fact,  if such ignorance or mistake of fact is sufficient to negative a particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of the offense charged... cancels the  presumption of intent," and  works  an acquittal

Article 1  of the Penal Code is  as follows:

Any person  voluntarily committing a crime  or misdemeanor shall incur criminal  liability,  even  though the wrongful act committed be different from that which he had intended to commit.

a voluntary act is a free, intelligent, and intentional act, and roundly asserts that  without intention  (intention to do wrong or... criminal  intention) there can be no crime;

Since evil intent is in general an  inseparable element in every crime, any  such mistake of fact as shows  the act committed to have proceeded from  no sort  of evil  in the mind necessarily relieves the actor from  criminal liability,... provided  always there is no fault or negligence  on his part;

A careful examination of the facts as disclosed in the case at bar convinces us that the defendant Chinaman  struck the fatal blow alleged  in the information in the firm belief that the intruder who forced open the door of his sleeping room was a thief, from whose... assault he  was in  imminent peril, both of his life and of his property and of the property committed  to his charge;  that in view of all the circumstances, as they must have presented themselves to the defendant at  the time,  he  acted in... good  faith, without malice, or criminal intent, in the belief that he was doing no more than exercising his legitimate right of self-defense; that had the facts been as he believed them to be he would have been wholly exempt from criminal liability on account of his ... act; and that he can not be said to  have been guilty of negligence or recklessness or even carelessness  in falling into his mistake as to the facts, or in the means adopted by him to defend himself from the imminent danger which he believed threatened his person and... his property and the property under his charge.

The  judgment of  conviction and  the sentence imposed by the trial court should be reversed, and the defendant acquitted of the crime with which he is  charged and his bail bond exonerated

Principles:

Since evil intent is in general an  inseparable element in every crime, any  such mistake of fact as shows  the act committed to have proceeded from  no sort  of evil  in the mind necessarily relieves the actor from  criminal liability,... provided  always there is no fault or negligence  on his part;