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Sermonia v CA

Facts:
26 May 1992, Jose C. Sermonia was charged with bigamy before the RTC of Pasig for
contracting marriage with Ma. Lourdes Unson on 15 February 1975 while his prior marriage to
Virginia C. Nievera remained valid and subsisting. Petitioner moved to quash the information on
the ground that his criminal liability has been extinguished by prescription. RTC denied motion
to quash. Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition to the CA assailing that since the
second marriage contract was duly registered with the Office of the Civil Registrar in 1975, such
fact of registration makes it a matter of public record and thus constitutes notice to the offended
party as of 1975, and that prescription commenced to run on the day the contract was registered.
For this reason, the information should have been filed on or before 1990. He also holds that the
second marriage ceremony was held at Our Lady of Nativity Church in Marikina and was open
to inspection by any interested party. The prosecution maintains that the prescriptive period does
not begin from the commission of the crime but from the time of discovery by the complainant
which was in July 1991.
Issue:
WON prescription applies in cases of bigamy;
WON prescription commences at the time of registration
Ratio:
NO; the rule on constructive notice in civil cases may be applied in criminal actions if the
factual and legal circumstances warrant, BUT, it cannot apply in the crime of bigamy because a
bigamous marriage is generally entered into by the offender in secrecy in order to conceal his
legal impediment, that even though his second marriage may be contracted in an open place, it
may be done so in a place and among people who do not know of his original subsisting
marriage.
NO; it is reasonable that the prescriptive period for the crime of bigamy should be counted only
from the day on which the said crime was discovered by the offended party, the authorities or
their agency, otherwise, the prosecution of such offense would be impossible and would
encourage a fearless violation of a social institution cherished and protected by law.