Continued crime – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The continued crime consists of a person carrying out several homogeneous criminal actions in similar situations during different times. The person in these actions violates the same legal norm.

The continued crime is made up of a set of actions that by themselves are already a crime, but that together, carried out by the same person for a time, are valued as a single crime.

For example, a person who commits a crime of theft every day, steals small amounts, when this person is prosecuted, he will not be sentenced for many crimes of theft but for a continuous crime of theft.

The origin of the existence of this continued crime comes from the Middle Ages. And against all odds, he intended to benefit the prisoner. In the middle ages, the penalties for the third crime of theft were very serious, therefore, to avoid them, this legal fiction was created where, despite having committed multiple crimes, they were prosecuted as one. This is how it has remained until today and this is how it is typified in the Penal Code.

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To understand what this concept is, you must first know what crime is.

It consists of carrying out an action contrary to the law. It can be an action or an omission (when there was an obligation to act according to the law).

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It is made up of three components at the criminal legal level that define it and that is how it is studied in crime theory:

  • Typical behavior: not any action or omission that seems to have an ethical reproach is a crime. It will only be a crime when that conduct is included in the criminal legal text of each country. With this characteristic of the crime, legal certainty is protected, that is, knowing before carrying out any action if it is a crime or not and knowing what the criminal punishment will be.
  • Unlawful conduct: it must be an action that is contrary to law and there is no authorization for that action to be contrary to law.
  • Guilty conduct: It must be an action or omission that the author wants to commit or that has been committed recklessly for not having taken the necessary care.


To understand that there is a continuing crime, these requirements must be met:

  1. Target Requirement: this requirement in turn needs identity of three acts:
    • The injured legal asset must be homogeneous or identical. There will be no continued crime if a robbery is committed once and then injuries and then fraud.
    • The acts to commit the crime must also be similar: that is, the theft of an employee in a cash register is the same, or the one who steals in the subway taking advantage of a traveler’s mistake.
    • Temporal and spatial connection: there must be a close chronology between the commission of the acts, it cannot be that the person has committed a theft in 2001 and another theft in 2011.
    • It is not necessary that the passive subject, that is, the victim of the crime, is always the same.
  2. Subjective requirement: the fraud must have been the same when committing the criminal act. What is the fraud? Fraud is acting voluntarily against the rules, knowing that what is being done is prohibited and still wanting to do it.
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