Penalty for estafa depends on amount defrauded

The penalty for estafa depends on the amount defrauded. Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period (or imprisonment ranging from 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 8 years), if the amount of the fraud is over P12,000.00 but does not exceed P22,000.00 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period (6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years), adding one year for each additional P10,000.00 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be. Inasmuch as the amount of P715,000.00 is P693,000.00 more than the abovementioned benchmark of P22,000.00, then, adding one year for each additional P10,000.00, the maximum period of 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years of prision mayor minimum would be increased by 69 years, as computed by the trial court. But the law categorically declares that the maximum penalty should be not more than 20 years. The maximum penalty then shall not exceed 20 years of reclusion temporal. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term of the indeterminate penalty should be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to that prescribed by the Code for the offense committed, which is prision correccional. Finding no error in the penalty proposed by the Solicitor General and imposed by the respondent Court, we thus sustain it. [G.R. No. 105213. December 4, 1996]