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Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure – Rule 110 – Designation of the Offense – Qualifying Circumstances Must be Sufficiently Alleged
In 2009, XYZ was indicted for allegedly raping BBB, a minor (11-years old). The qualifying circumstance of relationship was alleged in the informations as follows:
The aggravating circumstance of relationship is attendant in this case, as the respondent is the natural father of the victim, [BBB].
During trial, BBB herself admitted that even thought her birth certificate indicated XYZ as her biological father, XYZ was only her step-father.
XYZ was convicted for qualified statutory rape.
ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction is proper?
HELD: No. BBB is bound by her admission.
The Supreme Court also emphasized that: The Information must allege not only all the elements of the crime but also all the proper qualifying and aggravating circumstances that would change the nature of the offense or increase the penalty. In case of doubt in the allegations in the Information, such doubt shall be construed in favor of the accused and against the State if only to give life to the constitutional right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him and the presumption of innocence of the accused.
Here, the Informations did not state the correct filial relationship between XYZ and BBB. Instead of alleging that XYZ was the step-father of BBB, it erroneously relied on BBB’s birth certificate that stated that XYZ was her father.
The Court cannot consider the allegation of “natural father” as to include step-father. It is a basic rule in statutory construction that penal statutes are construed against the State and in favor of the accused. The reason for this principle is the tenderness of the law for the rights of individuals and the object is to establish a certain rule by conformity to which mankind would be safe, and the discretion of the court limited. Also, the purpose of strict construction is not to enable a guilty person to escape punishment through a technicality but to provide a precise definition of forbidden acts. Moreover, the relationship was also expressly included in the enumeration in Article 266-B. Therefore, step-father cannot be implied from the term “father”.
The proper conviction should be simple statutory rape since relationship was not duly proven.