Retroactive – Criminal Law

1. Concept

Penal Laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the persons guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same. (Article 22, Ibid.)

Cross-referenced article
For the purpose of this article, a person shall be deemed to be habitual delinquent, is within a period of ten years from the date of his release or last conviction of the crimes of serious or less serious physical injuries, robo, hurto, estafa or falsification, he is found guilty of any of said crimes a third time or oftener. (Rule 5, Article 62, Ibid.)

GENERAL RULE: Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the accused. (Article 22, Ibid.)

EXCEPTION: … unless a penal or criminal statute expressly, or by necessary implication, provides that it shall not be regarded as retroactive, it becomes subject to the rule laid down by that article. (People v. Parel, En Banc, G.R. No. L-18260, 27 January 1923)

“The general rule that penal laws shall be retroactive in so far as they favor the accused has no application where the later law is expressly made inapplicable to pending actions or existing cause of action,” which clearly means that in order for a penal statute favorable to the accused to have a retroactive effect, it is not necessary that it be so expressly provided in the statues, or, to put it in another way, that the provision declaring the retroactivity be repeated therein, but that if the Legislature intends it not to have a retroactive effect, it should expressly so state in the same statute. And the reason for it is obvious. For it being the general rule, according to article 22 of the Penal Code, that penal laws have retroactive effect in so far as they favor the accused, said general rule applies to all laws that may be enacted in the future, and if the Legislature intends to make an exception to the said rule, it should expressly say so. (People v. Moran, En Banc, G.R. No. L-17905, 27 January 1923)


⦁ Book I, Act No. 3815, Revised Penal Code

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

Table of Contents

Read more

Law Articles