1. That the offender is a private individual or even a public
officer not in the exercise of his official function;
2. That he seizes the papers or letters of another;
3. That the purpose is to discover the secrets of such another
4. That offender is informed of the contents or the
papers or letters seized.
This article is not applicable to parents with respect to their
minor children or to spouses with respect to the papers or
letters of either of them.
Contents of the correspondence need not be secret. The purpose
of the offender prevails.
Qualifying circumstance: When the offender reveals the contents
of such papers or letters to a 3rd person.
This article does not require that the offended party be
This is a crime against the security of one’s papers and effects.
The purpose must be to discover its effects. The act violates
the privacy of communication.
According to Ortega, it is not necessary that the offender should
actually discover the contents of the letter. Reyes, citing
People v. Singh, CA, 40 OG, Suppl. 5, 35, believes otherwise.
The last paragraph of Article 290 expressly makes the provision
of the first and second paragraph thereof inapplicable to parents,
guardians, or persons entrusted with the custody of minors placed
under their care or custody, and to the spouses with respect to
the papers or letters of either of them. The teachers or other
persons entrusted with the care and education of minors are
included in the exceptions.
Distinction from estafa, damage to
property, and unjust vexation:
- If the act had been executed with intent of gain, it would
- If, on the other hand, the purpose was not to defraud, but
only to cause damage to another’s, it would merit the
qualification of damage to property;
- If the intention was merely to cause vexation preventing
another to do something which the law does not prohibit or
compel him to execute what he does not want, the act should
be considered as unjust vexation.