Criminal Law

Prescription of Crimes and Penalties

The Revised Penal Code provides for the prescription of crimes and penalties as follows:

Art. 90. Prescription of crime. — Crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or reclusion temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.

Crimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years.

Those punishable by a correctional penalty shall prescribe in ten years; with the exception of those punishable by arresto mayor, which shall prescribe in five years.

The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year.

The crime of oral defamation and slander by deed shall prescribe in six months.

Light offenses prescribe in two months.

When the penalty fixed by law is a compound one, the highest penalty shall be made the basis of the application of the rules contained in the first, second and third paragraphs of this article. (As amended by RA 4661, approved June 19, 1966).

Art. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. — The period of prescription shall commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents, and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information, and shall commence to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are unjustifiably stopped for any reason not imputable to him.

The term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine Archipelago.

Art. 92. When and how penalties prescribe. — The penalties imposed by final sentence prescribe as follows:

1. Death and reclusion perpetua, in twenty years;

2. Other afflictive penalties, in fifteen years;

3. Correctional penalties, in ten years; with the exception of the penalty of arresto mayor, which prescribes in five years;

4. Light penalties, in one year.

Art. 93. Computation of the prescription of penalties. — The period of prescription of penalties shall commence to run from the date when the culprit should evade the service of his sentence, and it shall be interrupted if the defendant should give himself up, be captured, should go to some foreign country with which this Government has no extradition treaty, or should commit another crime before the expiration of the period of prescription.


Act No. 3326, appropriately entitled An Act to Establish Prescription for Violations of Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin, is the law applicable to offenses under special laws which do not provide their own prescriptive periods.

(a) after a year for offenses punished only by a fine or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both;

(b) after four years for those punished by imprisonment for more than one month, but less than two years;

(c) after eight years for those punished by imprisonment for two years or more, but less than six years; and

(d) after twelve years for any other offense punished by imprisonment for six years or more, except the crime of treason, which shall prescribe after twenty years. Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months.

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