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Discovering secrets through seizure of correspondence, A290 Revised Penal Code

1. Concept

Discovering secrets through seizure of correspondence – refers to the crime of seizing communications to discover another secrets and thereafter revealing the contents.

a. Legal basis

Art. 290. Discovering secrets through seizure of correspondence. – The penalty of prisión correccional in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) shall be imposed upon any private individual who in order to discover the secrets of another, shall seize his papers or letters and reveal the contents thereof.
If the offender shall not reveal such secrets, the penalty shall be arresto mayor and a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000).
This provision shall not be applicable to parents, guardians, or person entrusted with the custody of minors with respect to the papers or letters of the children or minors placed under their care or custody, nor to spouses with respect to the papers or letters of either of them. (As amended by R.A. 10951)

(Revised Penal Code)

2. Modes of commission

The following are the modes of committing the offense:

1) Seizure of communications to discovering secrets

a. Mode 1: Seizure of communications

Elements of the crime of discovering secrets through seizure of communication:

1) That the offender is a private individual;

2) That the offender seizes another’s papers or letters;

3) That the offender committed such act in order to discover another’s secrets;

3) That the offender reveals the contents thereof. (REVISED PENAL CODE, Article 290)

1) Element 1: Private individual

For the 1st element, the offender is a private individual.

This provision shall not be applicable to parents, guardians, or person entrusted with the custody of minors with respect to the papers or letters of the children or minors placed under their care or custody, nor to spouses with respect to the papers or letters of either of them. (As amended by R.A. 10951)

2) Element 2: Seizure of another’s papers or letters

For the 2nd element, the offender seizes another’s papers or letters in order to discover the latter’s secrets.

To seize – means “to take possession of”. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Papers – include papers “containing writing or print” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) or documents.

Letters – include “a direct or personal written or printed message addressed to a person or organization” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

These papers or letters contain secrets of another person.

3) Element 3: Discover secrets

For the 3rd element, the offender committed such act in order to discover another’s secret.

The intent of the offender in seizing such papers or letters is to discover another’s secrets.

4) Element 4: Reveals contents

For the 3rd element, the offender reveals the contents thereof.

As the provision does not specify, the revelation may be in whatever form such as privately by informing another person, or publicly by making such secrets readily available to anyone else.

References

Title IX – Crimes Against Personal Liberty and Security, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code, as amended

/Updated: November 22, 2023

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