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Effect of Death of the Accused on his Criminal and Civil Liabilities


Sec. 4. Effect of death on civil actions. — The death of the accused after arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action shall extinguish the civil liability arising from the delict. However, the independent civil action instituted under section 3 of this Rule or which thereafter is instituted to enforce liability arising from other sources of obligation may be continued against the estate or legal representative of the accused after proper substitution or against said estate, as the case may be. The heirs of the accused may be substituted for the deceased without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor heirs.

The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of thirty (30) days from notice.


A final judgment entered in favor of the offended party shall be enforced in the manner especially provided in these rules for prosecuting claims against the estate of the deceased.


If the accused dies before arraignment, the case shall be dismissed without prejudice to any civil action the offended party may file against the estate of the deceased.  (Rule 111, Rules of Court)  


What is the effect of the death of the accused on his criminal liability? 

The death of the accused totally extinguishes his criminal liability at any stage of the proceeding. (Rule 89, Revised Penal Code) The criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused and nobody to serve the penalty for the crime.


What is the effect of the death of the accused on his civil liability? 

As to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment (Rule 89, Revised Penal Code).


When does a claim for civil liability survive notwithstanding the death of the accused?

Independent civil actions instituted under Arts. 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code, or those instituted to enforce liability arising from other sources of obligation may be continued against the estate or legal representative of the accused after proper substitution or against his estate. (Sec. 4, Rule 111)


People vs. Bayot

Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, specifically provides the effect of death of the accused on his criminal, as well as civil, liability. It reads thus:

Art. 89. How criminal liability is totally extinguished. Criminal liability is totally extinguished:

1. By 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;

Applying the foregoing provision, this Court, in People v. Bayotas, which was cited in a catena of cases, had laid down the following guidelines:

1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by Justice Regalado, in this regard, the death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.

2. Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of [the] accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict. Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission:

a) Law
b) Contracts
c) Quasi-contracts
d) x x x x x x x x x
e) Quasi-delicts

3. Where the civil liability survives, as explained in Number 2 above, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained above.

4. Finally, the private offended party need not fear a forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of the criminal action and prior to its extinction, the private-offended party instituted together therewith the civil action. In such case, the statute of limitations on the civil liability is deemed interrupted during the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with [the] provisions of Article 1155 of the Civil Code, that should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible privation of right by prescription.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as the civil liability ex delicto. The rationale, therefore, is that the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case. (People vs. Bayot, G.R. No. 200030, April 18, 2012)

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