Case Digest: JARILLIO V. PEOPLE

JARILLIO V. PEOPLE 

G.R. No. 164435, [June 29, 2010]

DOCTRINE: 

He who contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.

FACTS:

On November 1979, the accused Victoria S. Jarillo,being previously united in lawful marriage with Rafael M. Alocillo in 1974, and without the said marriage having been legally dissolved, contracted a second marriage with Emmanuel Ebora Santos Uy which marriage was only discovered in 1999.

 On the same year, Emmanuel Uy (2nd husband) filed against the appellant a civil case for annulment of marriage before the RTC. Parenthetically, Jarillo filed for declaration of nullity of their marriage against Alocillo in 2000.

 For her defense, petitioner insisted that (1) her marriage to Alocillo was null and void because Alocillo was allegedly still married to a certain Loretta Tillman at the time of the celebration of their marriage; (2) her marriages to both Alocillo and Uy were null and void for lack of a valid marriage license; and (3) the action had prescribed, since Uy knew about her marriage to Alocillo as far back as 1978. Notwithstanding her defenses, the RTC found Jarillo guilty for the crime of bigamy in 2001 and was sentenced to suffer imprisonment of six years to ten years of prision mayor.

 On appeal to the CA, petitioner’s conviction was affirmed. It held that petitioner committed bigamy when she contracted marriage with Emmanuel Santos Uy because, at that time, her marriage to Rafael Alocillo had not yet been declared null and void by the court. This being so, the presumption is, her previous marriage to Alocillo was still existing at the time of her marriage to Uy. The CA also struck down, for lack of sufficient evidence, petitioner’s contentions that her marriages were celebrated without a marriage license, and that Uy had notice of her previous marriage as far back as 1978.

 In the meantime, the RTC rendered a decision in 2003, declaring petitioner’s 1974 marriage to Alocillo null and void ab initio on the ground of Alocillo’s psychological incapacity. Said decision became final and executory. In her motion for reconsideration, petitioner invoked said declaration of nullity as a ground for the reversal of her conviction.

ISSUE: 

W/N CA committed a reversible error in affirming the conviction of Jarillo for the crime of bigamy despite the supervening proof that her marriage to Alocillo had been declared void.

HELD: 

No. Jarillo’s conviction of the crime of bigamy must be affirmed. The subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of her marriage to Alocillo cannot be considered a valid defense in the crime of bigamy. The moment petitioner contracted a second marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null and void, the crime of bigamy was already consummated. Under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding.

 The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner’s marriage to [private complainant] had no bearing upon the determination of petitioner’s innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy, because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage is contracted.

Without a judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage, it is presumed to be subsisting. Any decision in the civil action for nullity would not erase the fact that the guilty party entered into a second marriage during the subsistence of a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is not essential to the determination of the criminal charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question.

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