Prize, reward or promise as aggravating circumstance

"That the crime be committed in consideration of a price, reward, or promise" is one of the aggravating circumstances under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) or Act 3815. An aggravating circumstance is one that makes the penalty for the crime committed heavier.

Aggravating circumstances refers to factors that increases the severity or culpability of a criminal act. Typically, the presence of an aggravating circumstance will lead to a harsher penalty for a convicted criminal.

In this kind of aggravating circumstance, there are two or more principals: [1] the one who gives or offers the price or promise to induce another to commit a crime; and [2] the one who accepts it in exchange of committing the crime. The first is a principal by inducement and the second is a principal by direct participation.

The evidence must show that one of the accused used money or valuable consideration for the purpose of inducing another to perform the deed. "But it must be borne in mind that these acts of inducement must not consist of simple counsel before the perpetration of the crime, nor of simple words at the moment of its execution. Such counsel or such words constitute without doubt wrongful acts and a reprehensible incentive before the moral law. But in order that they may be considered as a direct inducement according to the code it is necessary that he who gives such counsel or says such words must have a great control and a great influence upon the person who is to act and is necessary that this should be so direct, so efficacious, so powerful," as to make it a physical or moral coercion as powerful as the violence itself." (Viada. Commentaries. Vol. 1, p. 354., cited in G. R. No. 6942, August 30, 1912. 23 Phil. 81.)

Therefore, such a prize, reward or promise, to be considered a legal inducement, must be [1] promised prior to the commission of the crime and in consideration therefor; and [2] the compelling reason why the direct participant committed the crime.

If X discovered that Y has killed Z, the long-time enemy and competitor of X, and gave Y money out of his joy that Z is dead, X cannot be considered a principal by inducement. More importantly, what Y received from X cannot be used as a aggravating circumstance.

If X promised Y a promotion at work so that the latter would kill Z but Y already had a plan to do so and would have still done the same even without such promise of promotion, the prize, reward or promise cannot be considered an aggravating circumstance.

The prize, reward or promise need not be capable of pecuniary estimation or comprise of material things. It may be a kiss or a sexual favor. It may also be in exchange or recognizing a child as the inducer-father's natural child. Also, the prize, reward or promise need not be actually delivered. It is enough that the inducement was accepted by the direct participant before the commission of the crime.