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Art. 48. Penalty for complex crimes.

— When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or
when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be
imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period.

The 2 or more grave or less grave felonies must be the result of a single act, or an offense must be a necessary
means to commit the crime.

Complex crime – one crime only as there is only one criminal intent – only one information need be filed.

2 kinds of complex crimes:

a) compound crime – single act constitutes 2 or more grave or less grave felonies


1) that only one single act is committed by the offender

2) that the single act produces

a) 2 or more grave felonies

b) one or more grave and one or more less grave felonies

c) 2 or more less grave felonies

b) 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:

a) 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.

b) 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.


a) several light felonies resulting from one single act – not complex

Juan hit Pedro’s car, resulting in several light injuries and light felony of damage to property. No complex crime
because the crime of slight physical injuries and damage to property are light felonies. There are as many crimes as
there are persons injured w/ light physical injuries and as many penalties as there are light felonies committed,
even though they are produced by a single act of the offender.

b) when the crime is committed by force or violence, slight physical injuries are absorbed.

Examples of complex crimes:

a) Juan was a barangay captain who was killed while discharging his duty, the crime is a complex crime of
homicide w/ assault upon a person of authority.
b) Juan raped Petra, causing her physical injuries w/c required a month’s worth of medical attention. This is a
complex crime of rape w/ less serious physical injuries. The injuries were necessary to the commission of the rape.

when in obedience to an order, several accused simultaneously shot many persons, without evidence how many
each killed, there is only a single offense, there being a single criminal impulse.

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

Example: Juan falsified 100 warehouse receipts from April to June which enabled him to swindle the bank of 100
million. There’s only one complex crime of estafa through multiple falsification of documents.

There is no complex crime of arson w/ homicide

Art 48 is applicable to crimes through negligence

Example: Juan lit a cigarette as he poured gas in the tank of his car in his garage. The gas caught fire and the house
burned. His sister died and the maid suffered serious physical injuries. The crimes of arson, homicide, serious
physical injuries and damage to property constitute a complex crime. There is only one penalty but there are 3 civil

No complex crime when one of the offenses is penalized by a special law

Example of complex crime proper (at least 2 crimes must be committed):

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 for the sole 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.

When in the definition of a felony, one offense is a means to commit the other, there is no complex crime.

Ex. Murder committed by means of fire. Murder can be qualified by the circumstance of fire so no complex crime
even if Art 321 and 324 punishes arson. It’s plain and simple murder.

Not 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)
No complex crime when one offense is committed to conceal another

Example: Juan set the school on fire after committing homicide. 2 crimes.

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 with 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.

Example: Although the forcible abduction which was supposedly commenced in Manila was not proven, and
although the rape which was proven was actually committed in Cavite, still the RTC of Manila had jurisdiction to
convict the accused of rape. The complex crime of forcible abduction with rape was charged in the complaint on
the basis of which the case was tried.

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 with 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.

Example: Juan cooperated in the commission of the complex offense of estafa through falsification by reckless
imprudence by acts without which it could not have been accomplished, and this being a fact, there would be no
reason to exculpate him from liability. Even assuming he had no intention to defraud Tomas if his co-defendants
succeeded in attaining the purpose sought by the culprits, Juan’s participation together w/ the participation of his
co-defendants in the commission of the offense completed all the elements necessary for the perpetration of the
complex crime of estafa through falsification of documents.

When two felonies constituting a complex crime are punishable by imprisonment and fine, respectively, only the
penalty of imprisonment shall be imposed.
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.

Example: Even if the fine for damage to property through reckless imprudence is P40,000, an afflictive penalty, and
the penalty for the physical injuries resulting from the same act is only 4 mos of arresto mayor, a correccional
penalty may be imposed.

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.

Fine is not included in the list of penalties in the order of severity and it is the last in the order.

Art 48 applies only to cases where the Code doesn’t provide a specific penalty for a complex crime.

Art 48 doesn’t apply when the law provides one single penalty for single complex crimes like the ff:

a) robbery w/ homicide

b) robbery w/ rape

c) kidnapping w/ serious physical injuries

d) rape w/ homicide

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

Plurality of crimes – consists in the successive execution by the same individual of different criminal acts upon any
of w/c no conviction has yet been declared.

Kinds of plurality of crimes:

a) formal or ideal – only one criminal liability

b) 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.

Example: Juan stabbed Pedro, then Juan stabbed Tomas too. There are 2 committed as 2 acts were performed.

No conviction of the crimes committed There must be conviction by final judgment of the first prior offense

Formal/ideal plural crimes are divided into 3 groups: (a person committing multiple crimes is punished w/ one
penalty in the ff cases)

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

Continued crimes – 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.

Examples 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 which one criminal resolution arises.

b) Juan stole 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.

A continued crime is not a complex crime as 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 a continued crime – it’s a principle applied in connection w/ 2 or more crimes
committed w/ a single intention.

Continued crime is different from a transitory crime. Transitory crime is “moving crime”.
Example: kidnapping someone for ransom and moving him to another venue. The offenders can be prosecuted and
tried in either of the 2 areas.


There is a series of acts performed by the offender Same

Each act performed constitutes a separate crime because each act is generated by a criminal impulse Different
acts constitute only one crime because all of the acts performed arise from one criminal resolution.