Is culpa a crime?

Is culpa a means of committing a felony or a felony in itself? There had been along standing debate on whether culpa is a crime in itself or merely a means of committing a felony until the Ivler v. Modesto-San Pedro (G.R. No. 172716; November 17, 2010) case was decided by the Supreme Court.

The answer should be that there are two (2) schools of thought regarding this. First is that culpa is a means of committing a felony under Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Second is that culpa is a crime in itself under Article 365 of the RPC.

The traditional view is that, under Article 365, what is punished is not the resulting death, damage to property or physical injuries. Article 365 punishes the culpable act itself and the result is merely of moment for the determination of what penalty to impose. However, the Supreme Court, in the Ivler case, explained it in a different fashion.

Justice Carpio wrote, "Article 365 is a substantive rule penalizing not an act defined as a felony but "the mental attitude x x x behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight x x x," a single mental attitude regardless of the resulting consequences. Thus, Article 365 was crafted as one quasi-crime resulting in one or more consequences."