Prescription of the crime of usury

The crime of usury prescribes in four (4) years from its commission. (Ramos vs. Buyson Lampa, 63 Phil. 215 [1936].) Where the accused received the annual usurious interest every year for three (3) years, the prescriptive period is to be counted from the date of the last payment of usurious interest. (People vs. Hodges, 66 Phil. 291 [1938].)

The rule is that when usurious interest has been paid but the action to recover has already prescribed, such interest cannot be credited against and deducted from the principal. (Mendoza vs. Dujua, [CA] 41 O.G. 3014, citing Adorable vs. De Guzman, S.C.- G.R. No. 47102 [1940], cited in II Tolentino’s Code of Commerce, 4th ed., p. 1239.) It is also held that in a series of usurious transactions, it cannot be said that as the transactions are linked together, the period of prescription must begin from the last transaction. In a series of crimes, the period of prescription runs from the occurrence of each offense. (Mendoza case, supra, citing People vs. Fuentes and Norona, S.C.-G.R. No. 42449, cited in II Tolentino’s Code of Commerce, 4th ed., p. 1243.)

SOURCE: De Leon and De Leon, Jr. (2010). Comments and Cases on CREDIT TRANSACTIONS. 11th edition. ISBN 978-971-23-5535-6. Rex Books Store.
Section 1 of Act No. 3326, as later amended by section 1 Act No. 3763, reads as follows:

SECTION 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwise provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the following rules: (a) after a year for offences 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: Provided, however, That all offences against any law or part of law administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue shall prescribe after five years. Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months.

Violations of the regulations or conditions of certificates of public convenience issued by the Public Service Commission, shall prescribe after two months.

In accordance with clause (b) of this section, violations penalized by imprisonment for more than one month but less than two years prescribe after four years from their commission. The violations of the Usury Law committed by the accused for having collected usurious interest are punished by section 10 of Act No. 2655, as amended by section 2 of Act No. 2992, by a fine of not less than P50 nor more than P200, or by imprisonment of not less than ten days nor more than six months, or by both at the same time, in the discretion of the court, the amounts received as interest from the offended parties being ordered returned, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency at the rate of P2 per day. Considering the extent of the penalty of imprisonment provided by law, the violations committed by the accused fall within the prescriptive period indicated in clause (b). According to the facts, the accused received the usurious interest on February 12, 1930, February 9, 1931 and March 31, 1931. Inasmuch as from the latter date until May 4, 1935, when the criminal case against the accused was commenced by the filing of the information in the justice of the peace court of Iloilo, four years, one month and three days had elapsed, it is clear that the said violations have prescribed in conformity with clause (b) of section 1 of Act No. 3326, as lastly amended by Act No. 3763 (People vs. Fuentes and NoroƱa, G.R. No. 42449 [62 Phil., 957]).

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