260 U.S. 477 (1922), United States v. Stafoff

Citation:260 U.S. 477, 43 S.Ct. 197, 67 L.Ed. 358
Party Name:United States v. Stafoff
Case Date:January 02, 1923
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 477

260 U.S. 477 (1922)

43 S.Ct. 197, 67 L.Ed. 358

United States



United States Supreme Court

Jan. 2, 1923




1. An act of Congress cannot make past conduct criminal by purporting to construe a former act as having been in force at a time when this Court has held it was repealed. P. 480.

2. As applied to criminal prosecutions, (1) for carrying on the business of rectifier, wholesaler or retailer of liquor for beverage purposes, without having paid the special tax therefor, (2) for keeping a still for production of such spirits "for beverage and commercial purposes" without having registered it with the Collector of Internal Revenue, (3) for carrying on the business of a distiller of spirits for beverage purposes without having given bond, and, (4) for making a mash for production of such spirits, in an unauthorized distillery, and separation of spirits therefrom -- Rev.Stats. §§ 3242, 3258, 3281 and 3283, respectively, were repealed by the National Prohibition Act. P. 479. United States v. Yuginovich, 256 U.S. 450.

3. These laws, however, were revived by the Supplementary Prohibition Act of November 23, 1921, c. 134, § 5, 42 Stat. 223, as to conduct subsequent to its enactment. P. 480.

4. Congress may tax what it also forbids. P. 480.

5. A conviction upon an indictment based upon Rev.Stats. §§ 3258, 3281 and 3282, repealed, cannot be sustained under the National Prohibition Act by spelling out acts violative of that statute from the indictment. P. 481.

68 F. 417 (No. 26) affirmed.

283 F. 685 (No. 403) affirmed in part and reversed in part.

Page 478

The first and third of these cases came on writs of error sued out by the United States to review judgments of district courts sustaining demurrers to counts of indictments based on sections of the Revised Statutes relating to internal revenue. The second arose upon questions certified by the circuit court of appeals in a similar case in which the defendant, Brooks, had been convicted.

HOLMES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

In the first of these cases, Stafoff was indicted with another for having had in their possession a still intended for the production of distilled spirits for beverage and commercial [43 S.Ct. 199] purposes without having registered it with the Collector of Internal Revenue, as required by Rev.Stats. § 3258, and in a second count for having unlawfully manufactured on premises other than an authorized distillery a mash fit for the production of distilled spirits, to-wit, whisky, contrary to Rev.Stats. § 3282. A demurrer to these counts was sustained, 268 F. 417, and the United States brings the case here under the Criminal Appeals Act of March 2, 1907, c. 2564, 34 Stat. 1246.

The case of Brooks comes here on a certificate from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Brooks was convicted under the above mentioned §§ 3258 and 3282, and also under Rev.Stats. § 3281, for having

Page 479

carried on the business of a distiller without having given bond as required by law. The third and fourth counts under § 3282 respectively charged the making of a mash as above and the separating by distillation of alcoholic spirits from a fermented mash. The questions certified are whether the three sections mentioned are repealed by the National Prohibition Act of October 28, 1919, c. 85, 41 Stat. 305, and whether, if they are repealed, the cause should be remanded with directions to enter judgment and impose sentence under the last-named act.

In the third case, Remus and his associates were charged in six counts with having carried on the business...

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