Jesse Young vs Court of Appeals

October 22, 2015
ADVERTISEMENTS


  • Sending of a demand letter is not a condition precedent in prosecuting BP 22 cases
  • But Notice of Dishonor is indispensable
  • Notice of Dishonor may be through telephone

453 SCRA 109 – Criminal Law – Special Penal Laws – Bouncing Checks – Demand Letter and Notice of Dishonor

In 1981, an Information was filed against Jesse Young accusing him of issuing a bounced check worth P20k in violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22). The private complainant, Ines Uy, alleged that she sent Jesse a demand letter to make good the checks. However, Jesse, in his defense, denied ever receiving said demand letter. Jesse was convicted and his conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Jesse now appeals his conviction arguing that he should not be convicted because he never received a demand letter.

ISSUE: Whether or not a person accused of violating Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 may still be convicted even without a demand letter being sent to him.

HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court adopted the ruling of the trial court.  BP 22 punishes two acts one of which is the making or drawing and issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he does not have sufficient funds. One element of this is that the issuer must know or must have knowledge of such insufficiency.

Knowledge of insufficiency is a state of mind hence it is difficult to prove. That being, the law requires that in order to establish that the issuer does have knowledge of such insufficiency, a notice of dishonor must be sent to him (the issuer). Once the notice is sent, this gives rise to the presumption that the issuer has knowledge of the insufficiency. The notice need not be in the form of a formal demand letter.

If no notice was sent to the issuer, then the presumption will not rise. But this does not mean that the accused can no longer be prosecuted. The absence of a notice only means that the prosecution will have to prove knowledge of insufficiency in some other ways (use other evidence).

In the case at bar, it was not properly established if Jesse did receive a demand letter or a written notice of dishonor. However, it was undisputed that after the dishonor of the check, Ines telephoned Jesse to inform him of the dishonor. This fact means that Jesse does have knowledge that his account had insufficient funds and he failed to make good the checks within 5 days from notice. Thus, the prosecution was able to establish that Jesse has knowledge of the insufficiency.

 

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  • Compare this case with Dico vs CA, February 2005 (or just a month ahead of this case), where the SC ruled that the Notice of Dishonor must be in writing, unlike in this case where it was made through telephone.
  • The ruling in Dico vs CA was reiterated in Resterio vs People (G.R. No. 177438), a 2012 case.
  • Compare this also with the case of Campos vs People (G.R. No. 187401), a September 2014 case, where it was ruled that knowledge of insufficiency can be inferred from the acts of the issuer of the checks – in that case, the accused was convicted even if the prosecution did not sufficiently prove that a notice of dishonor was indeed sent to the accused.
  • Note: In practice, most law firms would combine their formal demand letter with the notice of dishonor.

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