Revised Penal Code: An Overview

Act No. 3815, otherwise known as the Revised Penal Code, is the basic law that defines criminal offenses and provides the penalties for the commission of those offenses. The Revised Penal Code took effect on January 1, 1932, or more than a year after its approval on December 8, 1930.

The Revised Penal Code is divided in two books. The first book contains general provisions regarding criminal offenses, the persons liable and the imposition of penalties. On the other hand, the second book describes the acts that constitute criminal offenses and the penalties for the commission thereof. Crimes are grouped under the following categories:

(a) crimes against national security (e.g., treason and espionage);

(b) crimes against the fundamental laws of the state (e.g., arbitrary detention and crimes against religious worship);

(c) crimes against public order (e.g., rebellion and sedition);

(d) crimes against public interest (e.g., forgeries and fraud);

(e) crimes relating to prohibited drugs;

(f) crimes against public morals (e.g., gambling and betting);

(g) crimes committed by public officers (e.g., bribery and malversation of public funds);

(h) crimes against persons (e.g., murder and homicide);

(i) crimes against personal liberty and security (e.g., kidnapping , slavery and trespassing);

(j) crimes against property (e.g., robbery and theft);

(k) crimes against chastity (e.g., adultery and concubinage);

(l) crimes against the civil status of persons (e.g., simulation of birth and usurpation of civil status); crimes against honor (e.g., libel); and

(n) criminal negligence.

The Revised Penal Code replaced the old Penal Code, which was based on the Spanish Penal Code of 1870. A Spanish royal order in 1886 extended the application of the Spanish Penal Code (with some modification) to the Philippines. (see US vs. Tamparong, 31 Phil. 323).


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