[G.R. No. 10550. December 3, 1915. ]
THE UNITED STATES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JUANA DE LOS SANTOS, Defendant-Appellant.
Romualdo Floresca for Appellant.
Acting Attorney-General Zaragoza for Appellee.
1. PERJURY; EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES. — Held: That in the light of all the facts as set forth in the opinion, the penalty imposed by the trial judge upon conviction of the appellant of the crime of perjury was excessive, and should be substantially reduced.
D E C I S I O N
Juana de los Santos, the appellant in this case, was convicted in the court below of the crime of perjury, and Sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and to pay a fine of P100.
It was proven at the trial that this poor woman filed a complaint in the court of a justice of the peace, which she was required to make under oath, charging her husband with assault and battery and criminal threats, in that he had maltreated her, kicked her violently, and threatened her with a knife; but that when the case came on for trial a week later she attempted to withdraw her complaint and declared under oath that she had never been maltreated by her husband, and that it was not true that he had threatened her with a knife.
The guilt of the accused of the crime of perjury with which she is charged in the information is conclusively established; but we do not think that this is a case calling or exemplary punishment.
It appears that this wretched, ignorant woman had given birth to a child not long before the date of the filing of her complaint in the court of the justice of the peace; that she had in fact been maltreated by her husband; and that while the offense was still fresh in her mind she complained to the local authorities; but that later, at the trial, and when she had time to think of the consequences, she denied the truth of her charges in an effort to shield her husband from the consequences of his misconduct, and forgave him for what he had done, rather than have him sentenced to imprisonment upon her testimony.
The penalty prescribed for the crime of perjury is imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of not more than P2,000.
The wide range of discretion thus allowed the courts in this regard clearly discloses the legislative intent that the courts should take into consideration all the attendant circumstances in each case in imposing the penalty; and we are of opinion that the attendant circumstances in the case at bar demand and justify the imposition of a penalty not much in excess of the minimum prescribed by law.
We must not be understood as condoning the commission of the crime of perjury in any case, but it will not be doubted that the false testimony of this woman, given in the hope of saving her husband from punishment because of his ill-treatment of herself, calls for a far different penalty from that which should be imposed upon one who falsely swears away the life or the liberty of another, or upon one who gives false testimony in a court of law in the hope of securing a judgment favorable to himself upon some disputed question of civil rights.
We think that the ends of justice will be subserved by substituting a penalty of five days’ imprisonment and a fine of P5 for so much of the sentence of the court below as imposes a penalty of three months’ imprisonment and a fine of P100, and that thus modified the judgment convicting and sentencing the appellant should be affirmed, with the costs of this instance de oficio. So ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson and Araullo, JJ., concur.