This article talks about the crime of serious physical injuries, less serious physical injuries, slight physical injuries and maltreatment punishable under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.
Before unleashing that inner boxer in you, think twice! You may land in jail since the Philippines punishes any person who shall wound, beat or assault another. Generally referred to as physical injuries, such act is penalized under the Revised Penal Code. The corresponding penalty is based on the degree of injuries inflicted and the time it takes for the victim to heal. Let’s start with the crime of serious physical injuries.
Serious Physical Injuries occur when the victim loses any body part, becomes insane, impotent or blind up until the victim is incapacitated for more than thirty days.
The most vicious type of physical injuries (except for mutilation) is the crime of serious physical injuries. This crime occurs when the victim loses any body part, becomes insane, impotent or blind up until the victim is incapacitated for more than thirty (30) days. Imprisonment for this crime ranges from prison mayor (12 years) to arresto mayor in its maximum period (4 months and 1 day). The penalty will increase to as high as reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods ( 14 years 8 months and 1 day to 20 years) if the victim who became insane, imbecile, impotent or blind is the father, mother, child, spouse, descendant or ascendant of the perpetrator or such acts were made with any of the attendant circumstances for murder under Art. 248 of the RPC (with treachery, in consideration of price, by means of inundation or derailment of automobiles, on occasion of calamities, with evident premeditation, with cruelty).
Thus, Art. 263 of the RPC states:
“Article 263. Serious physical injuries. – Any person who shall wound, beat, or assault another, shall be guilty of the crime of serious physical injuries and shall suffer:
1. The penalty of prision mayor, if in consequence of the physical injuries inflicted, the injured person shall become insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind;
2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if in consequence of the physical injuries inflicted, the person injured shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm, or a leg or shall have lost the use of any such member, or shall have become incapacitated for the work in which he was therefor habitually engaged;
3. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if in consequence of the physical injuries inflicted, the person injured shall have become deformed, or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance of the work in which he as habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety days;
4. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the physical injuries inflicted shall have caused the illness or incapacity for labor of the injured person for more than thirty days.
If the offense shall have been committed against any of the persons enumerated in Article 246, or with attendance of any of the circumstances mentioned in Article 248, the case covered by subdivision number 1 of this Article shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods; the case covered by subdivision number 2 by prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period; the case covered by subdivision number 3 by prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods; and the case covered by subdivision number 4 by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not be applicable to a parent who shall inflict physical injuries upon his child by excessive chastisement.”
Interestingly, losing a tooth as a result of an assault is not automatically classified as a deformity under Sec. 3 above. In the case of Ruego vs. People (G.R. No. 226745, 03 May 2021), the Supreme Court held that in determining whether or not the loss of a tooth could be considered a serious physical injury under Article 263, there must first be a factual determination during trial that the loss of the tooth resulted in a visible deformity. Where deformity is not apparent at trial, whether as a result of a lesser injurious act or through medical intervention, a lesser penalty should be imposed. If there is no visible disfigurement (such as new dentures to replace the lost tooth), then the offense can be downgraded to as slow as slight physical injuries.
Less Serious Physical Injuries occur when the victim is incapacitated for ten days or more but less than thirty days.
If the victim of assault is incapacitated for labor or will require medical assistance for ten (10) days or more, then the crime is called less serious physical injuries whereby the perpetrator is subject to imprisonment of arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months). If it was inflicted with manifest intent to insult or offend the victim or done with ignominy, a fine not exceeding P50,000 shall be imposed. It is important to note that the term of imprisonment becomes higher and elevated to prison correctional in its minimum and medium period (6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months) if the crime is done against the perpetrator’s parents, ascendants, guardians, curators, teachers or persons of rank or considered persons in authority. Pertinently, Article 265 of the RPC enunciates:
“Art. 265. Less serious physical injuries. – Any person who shall inflict upon another physical injuries not described in the preceding articles, but which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor for ten (10) days or more, or shall require medical assistance for the same period, shall be guilty of less serious physical injuries and shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor.
Whenever less serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted with the manifest intent to insult or offend the injured person, or under circumstances adding ignominy to the offense, in addition to the penalty of arresto mayor, a fine not exceeding Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000) shall be imposed.
Any less serious physical injuries inflicted upon the offender’s parents, ascendants, guardians, curators, teachers, or persons of rank, or persons in authority, shall be punished by prisión correccional in its minimum and medium periods: Provided, That in the case of persons in authority, the deed does not constitute the crime of assault upon such persons.”
Slight Physical Injuries occur when the physical injuries do not require medical assistance (if medical assistance is required, the range is 1 to 9 days) or do not prevent the victim from working.
If the victim does not require medical attendance or is not prevented from engaging in habitual work, then the crime is considered as slight physical injuries and punishable with imprisonment of arresto menor (1 day to 30 days) OR a fine not exceeding P40,000. The penalty becomes higher and is elevated to imprisonment of arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months) if the victim will require medical attention or is unable to work for a period of 1 to 9 days. Thus, Art. 266 of the RPC states:
“Art. 266. Slight physical injuries and maltreatment. – The crime of slight physical injuries shall be punished:
1. By arresto mayor when the offender has inflicted physical injuries which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor from one (1) day to nine (9) days or shall require medical attendance during the same period.
2. By arresto menor or a fine not exceeding Forty thousand pesos (₱40,000) and censure when the offender has caused physical injuries which do not prevent the offended party from engaging in his habitual work nor require medical assistance.
3. By arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not exceeding Five thousand pesos (₱5,000) when the offender shall ill-treat another by deed without causing any injury.”
The crime of maltreatment is committed when the offender shall ill-treat another by deed without causing any injury.
When the perpetrator ill-treats another by deed without causing any injury, the crime committed is called maltreatment (see Art. 266 of the RPC above) which is punishable by arresto menor in its minimum (1 to 10 days) OR a fine not exceeding P5,000. An example of maltreatment is slapping a person without the motive of casting dishonor on the person. Otherwise, if the slapping is done with intent to cast dishonor, discredit or contempt on the victim, the crime is considered as slander by deed ( see Villanueva vs. People, G.R. No. 160351, 10 April 2006) punishable under Art. 359 of the RPC with a punishment of imprisonment of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prison correctional in its minimum period (4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months) OR a fine ranging from P20,000 to P100,000 if it is of a serious nature. If the slander is not of a serious nature, the imprisonment shall only be arresto menor (1 to 30 days) or a fine not exceeding P20,000.00.
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