Revised Penal Code of the Philippines

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Revised Penal Code of the Philippines
Coat of Arms Philippine Islands (1905–1936).svg
Philippine Legislature
An Act Revising the Penal Code and other Penal Laws
Citation Act No. 3815
Territorial extent Philippines
Enacted by Governor-General of the Philippines with the advice and consent of the Philippine Legislature
Date enacted December 8, 1930
Date signed December 8, 1930
Presidential Decree No. 1602 (Gambling)
Presidential Decree No. 1613 (Arson)
Presidential Decree No. 1744 (Arson)
Criminal law
Status: In force

The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines. First enacted in 1930, it remains in effect today, despite several amendments thereto. It does not comprise a comprehensive compendium of all Philippine penal laws. The Revised Penal Code itself was enacted as Act No. 3815, and some Philippine criminal laws have been enacted outside of the Revised Penal Code as separate Republic Acts.

Historical background

The Revised Penal Code supplanted the Spanish Código Penal, which was in force in the Philippines (then a colony of the Spanish Empire) from 1886 to 1930, after a failed attempt in to be implented in 1877. The new Code was drafted by a committee created in 1927, and headed by Judge Anacleto Díaz, who would later serve on the Supreme Court. Rather than engage in a wholesale codification of all penal laws in the Philippines, the committee instead revised the old Penal Code and included all other penal laws only insofar as they related to the Penal Code.


The Revised Penal Code criminalizes a whole class of acts that are generally accepted as criminal, such as the taking of a life whether through murder or homicide, rape, robbery and theft, and treason. The Code also penalizes other acts which are considered criminal in the Philippines, such as adultery, concubinage, and abortion. It expressly defines the elements that each crime comprises, and the existence of all these elements have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt in order to secure conviction.

Not all crimes in the Philippines are penalized under the Code; certain crimes, such as the illegal possession of firearms, are penalized under special legislation contained in Republic Acts. The most notable crimes now excluded from the Revised Penal Code are those concerning illegal drug use or trafficking, which are penalized instead under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 and later the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.[1][2]

One distinct aspect of the Revised Penal Code centers on its classification of aggravating, exempting and mitigating circumstances, the appreciation of which affects the graduation of penalties. Penalties under the Revised Penal Code are generally divided into three periods – the minimum period, the medium period, and the maximum period. In addition to establishing the elements of the crime, the prosecution may also establish the presence of aggravating circumstances in order to set the penalty at the maximum period, or mitigating circumstances to reduce the penalty to its minimum period. The presence of both aggravating and mitigating circumstance, or the absence of such circumstances, may result in the imposition of the penalty in its medium period.[3]

Several provisions of the Revised Penal Code have also been amended through Republic Acts. One of the more consequential amendments came in 1997, with the passage of Republic Act No. 8353, the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.[4] Prior to the 1997 amendments, rape had been classified as a crime against chastity and was defined as "having carnal knowledge of a woman" under enumerated circumstances that indicated lack of consent.[3] Under the amendments, rape was reclassified as a crime against persons. The definition was further expanded from mere "carnal knowledge of a woman" and now included "an act of sexual assault by inserting his penis into other person's mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person." Additional circumstances by which the victim would be deemed incapable of giving valid consent were also integrated into this new definition of rape.[4]

With the abolition of the death penalty in 2006, the highest penalty currently possible under the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua, which ranges from 20 years and 1 day to 40 years' imprisonment.[3][5][6] The penalty of life imprisonment is not provided for in the Revised Penal Code, although it is imposed by other penal statutes such as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.[2]


Duration of Penalties[7]
Type Entire length Minimum length Medium length Maximum length Accessory penalties
Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max
Reclusión perpetua 20 years and 1 day to 40 years[8] Civil interdiction for life or during the period of the sentence as the case may be, and perpetual absolute disqualification
Reclusión temporal 12 years and one day 20 years 12 years and one day 14 years and 8 months 14 years and 8 months 17 years and 4 months 17 years and 4 months 20 years
Prisión mayor and temporary disqualification 6 years and one day 12 years 6 years and 1 day 8 years 8 years and 1 day 10 years 10 years and 1 day 12 years
  • If disqualification is imposed, 12 years and 1 day
  • Temporary absolute disqualification and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage
Prisión correccional, suspension, and destierro 6 months and one day 6 years 6 months and 1 day 2 years and 4 months 2 years, 4 months and 1 day 4 years and 2 months 4 years, 2 months and 1 day 6 years
  • If suspension is imposed, 6 years
  • Suspension from public office, from the right to follow a profession or calling, and that of perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage, if the duration of said imprisonment shall exceed eighteen months
Arresto mayor 1 month and 1 day 6 months 1 month 2 months 2 months and 1 day 4 months 4 months and 1 day 6 months Suspension of the right to hold office and the right of suffrage during the term of the sentence
Arresto menor 1 day 30 days 1 day 10 days 11 days 20 days 21 days 30 days

See also


  1. "The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972". Chanrobles Law Library. 1972-03-30. Retrieved 2008-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002". Chanrobles Law Library. 2002-06-07. Retrieved 2008-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Act No. 3815 - The Revised Penal Code". The Corpus Juris. 1930-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Anti-Rape Law of 1997". The Corpus Juris. 1997-09-30. Retrieved 2015-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Republic Act No. 7659 : AN ACT TO IMPOSE THE DEATH PENALTY ON CERTAIN HEINOUS CRIMES, AMENDING FOR THAT PURPOSE THE REVISED PENAL LAWS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES". The Corpus Juris. December 13, 1993.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of the Death Penalty in the Philippines". The Corpus Juris. 2006-06-24. Retrieved 2015-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Book One : Articles 1- 113". Act No. 3815 : An Act Revising the Penal Code and Other Penal Laws. December 8, 1930. Chapter Three, Section One. — Duration of Penalties.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Amended from 30 years to 40 years by Republic Act No. 7659.[5]