73 Ala. 527 (Ala. 1883), Wilson v. State

Citation73 Ala. 527
Opinion JudgeBRICKELL, C.J.
Party NameWilson v. The State.
AttorneyGARDNER & WILEY and N.W. GRIFFIN, for appellant. H. C. TOMPKINS, Attorney-General, for the State.
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

Page 527

73 Ala. 527 (Ala. 1883)



The State.

Supreme Court of Alabama

December Term, 1883

Indictment for Seduction.

APPEAL from Pike Circuit Court.

Tried before Hon. JOHN P. HUBBARD.

GARDNER & WILEY and N.W. GRIFFIN, for appellant.

H. C. TOMPKINS, Attorney-General, for the State.


The appellant was indicted under the statute (Code of 1876, § 4188), as amended by the later statute, approved February 25, 1881, which provides: "Any man, who, by means of temptation, deceptions, arts, flattery, or a promise of marriage, seduces any unmarried female in this State, shall be guilty of a felony, and, on conviction, shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary, for not less than one, nor more than ten years; but no indictment or conviction shall be had under this section, on the uncorroborated testimony of the female upon whom the seduction is charged, and no conviction shall be had under this section, if, on the trial, it is proved that such female was, at the time of the alleged offense, unchaste; and on the trial for such offense, the defendant shall be a competent witness in his own behalf."--Pam. Acts 1880-81, p. 48.

The indictment, following the words of the statute, charges that the defendant, "by means of temptations, deceptions, arts, flattery, or a promise of marriage, seduced," etc. On the trial there were numerous exceptions taken to the rulings of the court below, in the admission of evidence, and in the giving and refusal of instructions to the jury, which are now insisted upon as erroneous, and it is further insisted that the indictment is insufficient.

1. The objection to the indictment is, that it does not charge the facts as to the means employed by the defendant to accomplish the seduction. The mode of stating or describing the offense, adopted by the pleader, is in conformity to the forms of indictments for statutory offenses, whether of felony or misdemeanor, which are prescribed in the Code, and corresponds to the general rule of the common law, that such offenses ought to be stated or described in the words of the statute creating or defining them.--1 Brick. Dig. 499, § § 734-39. An exception to the rule obtains, when the words of the statute, by reason of their generality, may embrace cases falling within their literal or largest meaning, which are not within the spirit and intent of the statute. Then, the use of the words of the statute is not a direct, explicit averment of the fact, in the doing or omission of which the offense consists. But there can be no case falling within the words of this statute, taken in their largest meaning; no seduction by any temptation, deception, art, flattery, or by any promise of marriage, which is not within the spirit and intent, and within the mischief against which the statute is directed. It is true, as is insisted by the counsel for the defendant, that the facts and circumstances constituting an offense generally, ought to be stated in an indictment. But the statutes have dispensed with much of the technical nicety and particularity in this respect, which was observed at common law, regarding such facts and circumstances rather as matter of evidence than of pleading. And when the offense is of statutory creation, if a statement of it in the words of the statute, with reasonable certainty, informs the accused of the nature and character of the offense, and enables the court, on conviction, to pronounce the proper judgment, the requirements of the law are satisfied.

2. It was not permissible for the prosecuting witness to testify, that she did not willingly yield to the embraces of the defendant, or that she yielded in consequence of a promise of marriage, or of any act or declaration of the defendant. The material, controlling inquiry, in all cases it is the province of the jury to determine, is, whether there was seduction; whether the criminal connection resulted from the arts and wiles of the defendant, or from the ungoverned passions of the woman. The cause moving her to the sin is essentially and peculiarly matter of inference from all the facts and circumstances in evidence, carefully weighed and considered; being matter of inference or deduction from facts and circumstances proved or presumed, it is not a fact to which a witness can testify. As has been said, witnesses are not allowed to reason to the jury--they must speak to and of facts. Like intention, or motive, or belief, inferential from facts, the jury must deduce the conclusion, unaided by the opinion of witnesses.-- Peake v. Stout, 8 Ala. 647; Whetstone v. Bank, 9 Ala. 875. Questions of this character, as to the influence exerted upon the mind or conduct of the woman by the acts or representations of the man, like evidence declaratory, or in negation of a specific intention, which may be material, we are aware, is allowed by some authorities. But a different rule has always prevailed here, and such evidence uniformly...

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