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U.S. vs. Ah Chong (15 Phil. 488)

27 Jul

FACTS:

The defendant, Ah Chong, was employed as a cook at “Officers’ quarters. On the night, the defendant, who had received for the night, was suddenly awakened by some 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.” He was struck just above the knee by the edge of the chair and he thought that the blow had been inflicted by the person who had forced the door open, whom he supposed to be a burglar. 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. The roommate eventually died.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Ah Chong is liable for the death of his roommate.

HELD:

NO. Ah Chong was acquitted.

RATIO:

The decision of the lower court was reversed. The case was a “mistake of fact” resulting to self-defense justified under Article 11(1) of the Revised Penal Code where there is (1) unlawful aggression, (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it, and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. Had the deceased be a robber as he thought, his actions would not be criminally liable.

Some maxims cited:

Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, “the act itself does not make man guilty unless his intention were so;”

Actus me incito factus non est meus actus, “an act done by me against my will is not my act;”

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Case Digests, Criminal Law

 

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