355 U.S. 225 (1957), 47, Lambert v. California

Docket Nº:No. 47
Citation:355 U.S. 225, 78 S.Ct. 240, 2 L.Ed.2d 228
Party Name:Lambert v. California
Case Date:December 16, 1957
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 225

355 U.S. 225 (1957)

78 S.Ct. 240, 2 L.Ed.2d 228




No. 47

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 16, 1957

Argued April 3, 1957

Restored to the docket for reargument June 3, 1957

Reargued October 16-17, 1957




A Los Angeles municipal ordinance makes it an offense for a person who has been convicted of a crime punishable in California as a felony to remain in the City or more than five days without registering with the Chief of Police. On appeal from a conviction for failure to register,

Held: when applied to a person who.has no actual knowledge of his duty to register, and where no showing is made of the probability of such knowledge, this ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 226-230.


Page 226

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 52.38(a) of the Los Angeles Municipal Code defines "convicted person" as follows:

Any person who, subsequent to January 1, 1921, has been or hereafter is convicted of an offense punishable [78 S.Ct. 242] as a felony in the State of California, or who has been or who is hereafter convicted of any offense in any place other than the State of California, which offense, if committed in the State of California, would have been punishable as a felony.

Section 52.39 provides that it shall be unlawful for "any convicted person" to be or remain in Los Angeles for a period of more than five days without registering; it requires any person having a place of abode outside the city to register if he comes into the city on five occasions or more during a 30-day period; and it prescribes the information to be furnished the Chief of Police on registering.

Section 52.43(b) makes the failure to register a continuing offense, each day's failure constituting a separate offense.

Appellant, arrested on suspicion of another offense, was charged with a violation of this registration law. * The evidence showed that she had been, at the time of her arrest, a resident of Los Angeles for over seven years. Within that period, she had been convicted in Los Angeles of the crime of forgery, an offense which California punishes as a felony. Though convicted of a crime punishable as a felony, she had not, at the time of her arrest, registered under the Municipal Code. At the trial, appellant

Page 227

asserted that § 52.39 of the Code denies her due process of law and other rights under the Federal Constitution unnecessary to enumerate. The trial court denied this objection. The case was tried to a jury, which found appellant guilty. The court fined her $250 and placed her on probation for three years. Appellant, renewing her constitutional objection, moved for arrest of judgment and a new trial. This motion was denied. On appeal, the constitutionality of the Code was again challenged. The Appellate Department of the Superior Court affirmed the judgment, holding there was no merit to the claim that the ordinance was unconstitutional. The case is here on appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 1257(2). We...

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