123 F.2d 271 (2nd Cir. 1941), 29, United States v. Crimmins

Docket Nº:29.
Citation:123 F.2d 271
Case Date:November 03, 1941
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 271

123 F.2d 271 (2nd Cir. 1941)




No. 29.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

November 3, 1941

Page 272

Roger O. Baldwin, of Syracuse, N.Y., for appellant.

Mathias F. Correa, U.S. Atty., and John C. Walsh, both of New York City, for appellee.

Before L. HAND, SWAN, and AUGUSTUS N. HAND, Circuit Judges.

L. HAND, Circuit Judge.

The accused in this case was convicted of a conspiracy to transport stolen securities in interstate commerce 415, Title 18, U.S.C.A. The prosecution proved that nine of the ten persons indicted had been carrying on a joint enterprise in the City of New York of disposing of stolen bonds, some of which were stolen in other states. Crimmins was the tenth defendant, and all ten (except one, Sonking, who had died) either pleaded guilty, or were convicted. Crimmins and two others appealed, but he alone has prosecuted the appeal to a conclusion. He was a lawyer practicing in Syracuse; his only contact with the rest was through one of them, Mahler, who lived in New York. (Another, Koch, did indeed swear that he had visited Crimmins, and Mahler swore that Sonking also had visited him; but for the purposes of this appeal these interviews may be disregarded.) Mahler went several times from New York to Syracuse, and offered stolen bonds to Crimmins, which Crimmins bought under circumstances which justified the jury in concluding, as they did, that he knew that they had been stolen. The record is, however, entirely bare of evidence that Crimmins knew the place of any of the thefts, and if it was necessary to prove that he knew that his confederates were fetching stolen bonds into the state, the prosecution failed to make out a case.

Ordinarily one is not guilty of a crime unless he is aware of the existence of all those facts which make his conduct criminal. That awareness is all that is meant by the mens rea, the 'criminal intent', necessary to guilt, as distinct from the additional specific intent required in certain instances (Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 167, 25 L.Ed. 244), and even this general intent is not always necessary. Sometimes, as for example in

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'felony murder', a man may be guilty who has no such awareness; the fact that one has engaged in a felony dispenses with the need of proving an intent to kill. Again, in 'statutory rape' the accused need not know that the victim is below the age of consent; he takes his chances (Commonwealth v. Murphy, 165 Mass. 66, 42 N.E. 504, 30 L.R.A. 734, 52 Am.St.Rep. 496; People v. Marks, 146 A.D. 11, 130 N.Y.S. 524); and in prosecutions for adultery he need not...

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