Legal Questions

What is the rule on duplicity of offenses?

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As a general rule, a complaint or information must charge only one offense, except when the law provides only one punishment for various offenses (compound and complex crimes under Art. 48 of the RPC and special complex crimes).

A complaint or information that charges more than one offense is considered as defective but it can be the basis of a valid conviction.

What is the reason for the rule against duplicitous complaint or information?

The reason for the rule is to enable the accused to have the necessary knowledge of the charge against him and to be able to prepare and prove his defense.

What is the remedy of the accused against a duplicitous information or complaint?

The remedy of the accused is to file a motion to quash pursuant to Section 3 (f) of Rule 117.

The information remains valid even if it is duplicitous. It is up to the accused to raise or question the defect by filing the proper motion to quash before he pleads to the charge.

What is the effect of the failure of the accused to object to a duplicitous information?

If the accused fails to object before arraignment, the right is deemed waived, and he may be convicted of as many offenses as there are charged if proved by the prosecution.

Some situational examples:

X fired his gun once, but the bullet killed two persons.  He was charged with two counts of homicide in one information.  Can he be convicted under that information?

Yes.  It falls under the exception to the rule.  This is a compound crime in which one act results in two or more grave or less grave felonies.  The law provides only one penalty for the two offenses.

X was charged with both robbery and estafa in one information.  Can he be convicted of both offenses?

It depends.  If he objects to the duplicitous information before arraignment, he cannot be convicted under the information.  But if he fails to object before arraignment, he can be convicted of as many offenses as there are in the information.

How does this rule on duplicitous informations affect the rules on continuing offenses (delito continuados)?

First let’s take a look at the various views on continuing offenses.

  1. Delito Continuado or Continuing offense exists if there is a plurality of acts performed during a period of time, unity of penal provision violated, and unity of criminal intent or purpose which means that two or more violations of the same penal provisions are united in one and the same intent or resolution leading to the perpetration of the same criminal purpose or aim.
  2. Delito Continuado or continuing offense consists of several crimes but in reality, there is only one crime in the mind of the perpetrator.
  3. Delito Continuado or continuing offense consists of a series of acts arising from one criminal intent or resolution.

In the above views, since there is only a single criminal intent, even though there is a series of criminal acts, only one information should be filed against the offender.


The taking of the accused of several things, whether belonging to the same or different owners, at the same time and place constitutes but one larceny.

In American jurisprudence, the applicable principle is the “Single Larceny” Doctrine which looks at the commission of the different criminal acts as but one continuous act involving the same “transaction” or as done on the same “occasion”.

The above doctrine, which we adopted, abandoned the “Separate Larceny” Doctrine which views that there is as many larceny as there are properties taken from the victim or victims. Also abandoned was the doctrine that the government has the discretion to prosecute the accused for one offense or for as many distinct offenses as there are victims.

To stick with the abandoned rules would violate the constitutional guarantee against putting a man in jeopardy twice for the same offense. It has also been observed that the doctrine of Single Larceny is humane since if a separate charge could be filed for each act, the accused may be sentenced to jail in perpetuity or for the rest of his life.

The law requires however that where the offense charged in the information is a complex crime as defined by law, every essential element of each of the crimes constituting the complex felony must be stated in the information.

NOTE: The single larceny rule is commonly applied by our courts to malversation and falsification cases but not so in estafa cases.

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