LAW EACH WEEK
Liability of a Fence -Buyers Beware
by Atty. Karissa Tolentino

Anti-fencing is neither a prohibition of fenc ing with swords nor of putting a fence around our homes.

A "fence" under P.D. No. 1612 or the Anti- Fencing Law is a person, with intent to gain buys, receives, possesses, keeps, acquires, conceals, sells or disposes of a thing which he knows, or should be known to have been derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or theft.

This law was enacted to impose heavy penalties on persons who profit by the effects of the crimes of robbery and theft.

The essential elements of the crime of fencing are as follows: (1) a crime of robbery or theft has been committed; (2) the accused, who is not a principal or on accomplice in the commission of the crime of robbery or theft, buys, receives, possesses, keeps, acquires, conceals, sells or disposes, or buys and sells, or in any manner deals in any article, item, object or anything of value, which has been derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or theft; (3) the accused knew or should have known that the said article, item, object or anything of value has been derived from the proceeds of the crime of robbery or theft; and (4) there is, on the part of one accused, intent to gain for oneself or for another.

Presumption of Fencing.

Mere possession of any item of value, which has been the subject of robbery or thievery shall be, on its face, presumed evidence of fencing. The burden is now shifted to the defendant for the purpose of showing that the possession of the stolen item is without unlawful intention.

Penalties:

1) Prision mayor (6years and 1 day to 12 years) if the stolen object is valued between Php 12,000.00 to Php 22,000.00. If the value exceeds Php 22,000.00, the penalty is put at its maximum period with an additional year for every additional Php10,000.00 but not to exceed 20 years.

2) If the value is greater than the limit in #1, reclusion temporal (12 years and 1day to 20 years) and its accessory penalties are imposed.

3) Prision correccional medium (2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 4 years) and maximum (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years) if the value of the stolen object is higher than Php 6,000.00 but not higher than Php 12,000.00.

4) Prision correccional minimum (6 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months) and medium if the stolen property is worth more than Php 200 but not higher than Php 6,000.00.

5) Arresto mayor medium (2 month and 1 day to 4 months) to prision correccional minimum if the value is more than Php 50 but not more than Php 200.

6) Arresto mayor medium if the value is more than Php 5 but not higher than Php 50.

7) Arresto mayor minimum (1 month and 1 day to 2 months) if the value is Php 5 or less.

In addition to jail time the stolen object is to be returned to its rightful owner, even if itís in the hands of a third person unless it was acquired following requirements set by law and the law now bars recovery. Reparation for damages is also required as well as indemnity for damages.

So beware of people who suddenly walk up to you and hold out something for sale like a cellphone, a pair of shades, or watch at a very attractive price. Chances are if you buy it you could be committing a crime.


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