Penalty For Complex Crimes

Penalty for Complex Crimes


COMPLEX CRIME – although there actually are two or more crimes, the law treats them as constituting only one - as there is only one criminal intent. Only one information need be filed.

2 Kinds Of Complex Crimes:
1. Compound crime – single act constitutes 2 or more grave or less grave felonies.

a. that only one single act is performed by the offender
b. that the single act produces
i. 2 or more grave felonies
ii. one or more grave and one or more less grave felonies
iii. 2 or more less grave felonies

2. Complex crime proper – when an offense is a necessary means for committing another.

1. That at least 2 offenses are committed
2. That one or some of the offenses must be necessary to commit the other
3. That both or all the offenses must be punished under the same statute

No Single Act In The Following Cases:
1. When 2 persons are killed one after the other, by different acts, although these 2 killings were the result of a single criminal impulse. The different acts must be considered as distinct crimes.
2. When the acts are wholly different, not only in themselves, but also because they are directed against 2 different persons, as when one fires his gun twice in succession, killing one and injuring the other.

Light felonies produced by the same act should be treated and punished as separate offenses, or may be absorbed by the grave felony.


When in obedience to an order, several accused simultaneously shot many persons, w/o evidence how many each killed, there is only a single offense, there being a single criminal impulse.

For the attainment of a single purpose w/c constitutes an offense, various acts are executed, such acts must be considered only as one offense.

When a complex crime is charged and one offense is not proven, the accused can be convicted of the other.

There is no complex crime of arson w/homicide.

Art 48 is applicable to crimes through negligence.

Kidnapping the victim to murder him in a secluded place – ransom wasn’t paid so victim was killed. Kidnapping was a necessary means to commit murder. But where the victim was taken from his home but it was solely for the purpose of killing him and not for detaining him illegally or for the purpose of ransom, the crime is simple murder.

“Necessary means” does not mean “indispensable means”. Indispensable would mean it is an element of the crime. The crime can be committed by another mean. The means actually employed (another crime) was merely to facilitate and insure the consummation of the crime.

It is not a complex crime when trespass to dwelling is a direct means to commit a grave offense. Like rape, there is no complex crime of trespass to dwelling with rape. Trespass will be considered as aggravating (unlawful entry or breaking part of a dwelling)

When the offender had in his possession the funds w/c he misappropriated, the falsification of a public or official document involving said funds is a separate offense. But when the offender had to falsify a public or official document to obtain possession of the funds w/c he misappropriated, the
falsification is a necessary means to commit the malversation.

There is no complex crime of rebellion w/ murder, arson, robbery or other common crimes. They are mere ingredients of the crime of rebellion – absorbed already.

When 2 crimes produced by a single act are respectively within the exclusive jurisdiction of 2 courts of different jurisdiction, the court of higher jurisdiction shall try the complex crime.

Art. 48 is intended to favor the culprit.

The penalty for complex crime is the penalty for the most serious crime, the same to be applied in its maximum period. If the different crimes resulting from one single act are punished w/ the same penalty, the penalty for any one of them shall be imposed, the same to be applied in the maximum period. The same rule shall be observed when an offense is a necessary means to commit the other.

A complex crime of the second form may be committed by two persons.

But when one of the offenses, as a means to commit the other, was committed by one of the accused by reckless imprudence, the accused who committed the crime by reckless imprudence is liable
for his acts only.

When two felonies constituting a complex crime are punishable by imprisonment and fine, respectively, only the penalty of imprisonment shall be imposed. Reason: Fine is not included in
the list of penalties in the order of severity and it is the last in the graduated scales in Art. 71.

When a single act constitutes two grave or less grave or one grave and another less grave, and the penalty for one is imprisonment while that for the other is fine, the severity of the penalty for the more serious crime should not be judged by the classification of each of the penalties involved, but by
the nature of the penalties.

In the order of severity of the penalties, arresto mayor and arresto menor are considered more severe than destierro and arresto menor is higher in degree than destierro.

There is NO COMPLEX CRIME in the following:
1. In case of continuing crimes
2. When one offense is committed to conceal the other
3. When the other crime is an indispensable part or an element of the other offenses as defined
4. Where one of the offenses is penalized by a special law
5. When the law provides one single penalty for special complex crime:
   a. Robbery with Homicide
   b. Robbery with Rape
   c. Rape with Homicide
   d. Kidnapping with Serious Physical Injuries
   e. Kidnapping with Homicide

PLURALITY OF CRIMES – consists in the successive execution by the same individual of different criminal acts upon any of which no conviction has yet been declared.

Kinds Of Plurality Of Crimes:
1. Formal or Ideal – only one criminal liability. Formal or ideal crimes are further divided into three groups, where a person committing multiple crimes is punished with only one penalty:
a. when the offender commits any of the complex crimes defined in Art. 48
b. when the law specifically fixes a single penalty for 2 or more offenses committed: robbery w/ homicide, kidnapping w/ serious physical injuires
c. when the offender commits continued crimes

2. Real Or Material – there are different crimes in law as well as in the conscience of the offender. In such cases, the offender shall be punished for each and every offense that he committed

Under Art.49 - Lesser penalty to be imposed in its maximum period
Under Art.48 - Penalty for the more serious crime shall be imposed in its maximum period.

CONTINUED CRIME – refers to a single crime consisting of a series of acts but all arising from one criminal resolution. Although there is a series of acts, there is only one crime committed, so
only one penalty shall be imposed.

Example of continued crimes:
 a. A collector of a commercial firm misappropriates for his personal use several amounts collected by him from different persons. There is only one crime because the different and successive appropriations are but the different moments during w/c one criminal resolution arises.
b. Juan steals 2 books belonging to 2 different persons. He commits only one crime because there is unity of thought in the criminal purpose of the offender

NOTE: A continued crime is not a complex crime, as the offender does not perform a single act but a series of acts. Therefore:
a. penalty not to be imposed in the maximum
b. no actual provision punishing continued crime – It is a principle applied in connection with 2 or more crimes committed with a single intention.

NOTE: A continued (continuous or continuing) crime is different from a transitory crime. Transitory crime is “moving crime”.

2004 Bar Exam Question

Distinguish clearly but briefly: Between compound and complex crimes as concepts in the Penal Code.

COMPOUND CRIMES result when the offender committed only a single felonious act from which
two or more crimes resulted. This is provided for in modified form in the first part of Article 48, Revised Penal Code, limiting the resulting crimes to only grave and/or less grave felonies. Hence, light felonies are excluded even though resulting from the same single act.

COMPLEX CRIMES result when the offender has to commit an offense as a necessary means for committing another offense. Only one information shall be filed and if proven, the penalty for the more serious crime shall be imposed.

2005 Bar Exam Question

Distinguish the following from each other: Complex Crime vs. Special Complex Crime vs. Delito Continuado.

An ORDINARY COMPLEX CRIME is made up of two or more crimes being punished in distinct
provisions of the Revised Penal Code but alleged in one information either because they were brought about by a single felonious act or because one offense is a necessary means for committing the other offense or offenses. They are alleged in one information so that only one penalty shall be imposed. As to penalties, ordinary complex crime, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed and in its maximum period.

A SPECIAL COMPLEX CRIME, on the other hand, is made up of two or more crimes which are
considered only as components of a single indivisible offense being punished in one provision of the Revised Penal Code. As to penalties, special complex crime, only one penalty is specifically prescribed for all the component crimes which are regarded as one indivisible offense. The component crimes are not regarded as distinct crimes and so the penalty for the most serious crime is not the penalty to be imposed nor in its maximum period. It is the penalty specifically provided for the special complex crime that shall be applied according to the rules on imposition of the penalty.

DELITO CONTINUADO, or CONTINUOUS CRIME, is a term used to denote as only one crime a
series of felonious acts arising from a single criminal resolution, not susceptible of division, which are carried out in the same place and at about the same time, and violating one and the same penal provision. The acts done must be impelled by one criminal intent or purpose, such that each act merely constitutes a partial execution of a particular crime, violating one and the same penal provision. It involves a concurrence of felonious acts violating a common right, a common penal provision, and Impelled by a single criminal impulse (People vs. Ledesma, 73 SCRA 77).


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