21 A. 700 (Md. 1891), Beard v. State

Citation:21 A. 700, 74 Md. 130
Opinion Judge:MCSHERRY, J.
Party Name:BEARD v. STATE.
Attorney:Tho. C. Ruddell, for appellant. Atty. Gen. Whyte and Charles G. Kerr, for the State.
Judge Panel:Argued before MILLER, ROBINSON, BRYAN, IRVING, BRISCOE, and MCSHERRY, JJ.
Case Date:March 25, 1891
Court:Court of Appeals of Maryland
 
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Page 700

21 A. 700 (Md. 1891)

74 Md. 130

BEARD

v.

STATE.

Court of Appeals of Maryland

March 25, 1891

Error to criminal court of Baltimore city.

Argued before MILLER, ROBINSON, BRYAN, IRVING, BRISCOE, and MCSHERRY, JJ.

Tho. C. Ruddell, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. Whyte and Charles G. Kerr, for the State.

MCSHERRY, J.

The appellant was indicted for the common-law offense of keeping a disorderly house, and was convicted by the verdict of a jury in the criminal court of Baltimore city. He thereupon appealed to this court upon exceptions reserved during the trial, and pending the appeal was released on bail. In June, 1889, the rulings of the court below were affirmed, (71 Md. 275, 17 A. 1044,) and Beard disappeared. His recognizance was forfeited, but he was not taken until the 16th day of October, 1890. In the mean time--that is, after his conviction, and before his arrest in October last--an act of assembly was passed, being chapter 523 of the Acts of January session, 1890. That statute enacts that "any person who shall keep a disorderly house shall, on conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of not

Page 701

less that $50 nor more than $300, or by imprisonment in jail for not less than 10 days nor more than 6 months, or by both fine and imprisonment." On the 11th of October a motion in arrest of judgment was filed. It was founded on the change made by this act of assembly in the punishment for keeping a disorderly house. This motion was heard by the supreme bench of Baltimore city, and overruled, whereupon a sentence of 13 months in jail and $1,200 fine was imposed by the criminal court; and from that final judgment Beard has brought the record into this court by petition as upon a writ of error. The question is whether the criminal court had authority to inflict the punishment it did.

The offense of keeping a disorderly house is a common-law misdemeanor. It is not defined in and was not created by any statute of this state. The punishment for it when Beard was convicted was, in the discretion of the court, a fine or imprisonment or both; and the amount of the fine and the length of the imprisonment were likewise in the court's discretion. This was the punishment at common law. The act of 1890, passed after Beard had been convicted and had fled, and before he was sentenced, prescribed for the first time a statutory penalty, which is greater than...

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