Franco v. United States

Decision Date17 December 1964
Docket NumberNo. 18546.,18546.
Citation119 US App. DC 339,342 F.2d 918
PartiesJohn R. FRANCO, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit

Mr. Rourke J. Sheehan (appointed by this court), Washington, D. C., for appellant.

Mr. John A. Terry, Asst. U. S. Atty., with whom Messrs. David C. Acheson, U. S. Atty., and Daniel A. Rezneck, Asst. U. S. Atty. at the time the brief was filed, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before EDGERTON, Senior Circuit Judge, and WASHINGTON and BASTIAN, Circuit Judges.

Petition for Rehearing en Banc Denied February 16, 1965.

WASHINGTON, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Franco was convicted in the District Court of "bail jumping" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3146, and seeks reversal.

The background is this: Franco was convicted of mail fraud in the District Court in 1962. He appealed to this court, and we admitted him to bail pending appeal in the amount of $3,000. He executed a bail bond pledging that he would surrender himself if the judgment was affirmed, the appeal dismissed, or a new trial granted. He thus obtained his liberty in the summer of 1962. On December 4, 1962, the Government moved to dismiss his appeal on grounds not relevant here. By order dated March 1, 1963, this court directed the United States Attorney to serve appellant Franco with a copy of the motion to dismiss. Shortly thereafter the Government filed a certificate of service showing that copies of the motion had been mailed to appellant at two different addresses in Florida. The material was returned by the Post Office, marked "unknown." On April 4, 1963, we dismissed the appeal and revoked appellant's bail.1 On April 5, 1963, our order was filed in the District Court and on April 9 was presented to the Chief Judge in open court. Appellant Franco did not appear. The Chief Judge declared a forfeiture of his bond and caused a bench warrant to be issued for his arrest. Later, on June 24, 1963, under circumstances to be described presently, appellant was apprehended in New Jersey and was returned to the District of Columbia. On July 9, 1963, the District Court granted a motion by appellant's surety on the bail bond (an insurance company) to set aside the forfeiture of the bond and to remit the penalty thereunder.2 On August 12, 1963, an indictment was filed in the District Court charging Franco with the crime of bail jumping. After a trial before a jury he was found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. This appeal followed.

Appellant's principal argument is that he was not properly convicted of failing to surrender himself after forfeiture of his bail bond because the forfeiture had been set aside prior to his indictment. He urges what we consider a strained construction of the governing statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3146, which provides:

"Whoever, having been admitted to bail for appearance before any United States commissioner or court of the United States, incurs a forfeiture of the bail and wilfully fails to surrender himself within thirty days following the date of such forfeiture, shall, if the bail was given in connection with a charge of felony or pending appeal or certiorari after conviction of any offense, be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; or, if the bail was given in connection with a charge of committing a misdemeanor, or for appearance as a witness, be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
"Nothing in this section shall interfere with or prevent the exercise by any court of the United States of its power to punish for contempt." (Emphasis supplied.)

The gist of appellant's argument is that once the District Court had "set aside" the forfeiture of the bail bond, the forfeiture "was annulled and made void, just as if it had never been." This language is to be found in Migdol v. United States, 298 F.2d 513, at 516, 91 A.L.R.2d 1283 (9th Cir. 1961), a case somewhat similar to the one at bar. But that case is to be distinguished on at least one score, namely, that there the motion to set aside the forfeiture was made by the accused himself rather than, as here, by the bonding company. And, with due respect to the Ninth Circuit, the reasoning upon which it based its conclusion is not satisfactory to us.

The language of the statute refers to a person who has been admitted to bail and who "1 incurs a forfeiture of the bail and 2 wilfully fails to surrender himself within thirty days following the date of such forfeiture." In the present case, appellant Franco incurred a forfeiture of his bail on April 9, 1963.3 He took no action seeking reconsideration or review of the District Court's order of forfeiture.

The District Court's subsequent action setting aside the forfeiture at the instance of the insurance company did not dispense the appellant from the consequences of his failure to surrender himself. The purpose of the statute is to provide an additional deterrent to jumping bail. In order to serve this purpose, the statute prescribes a penalty if the bailed defendant wilfully fails to surrender himself within thirty days of forfeiture. Operation of the statute is tied to forfeiture, which occurs upon "breach of condition of a bond." FED.R.CRIM.P. 46(f) (1).4 On the other hand, a forfeiture may be set aside "if it appears that justice does not require the enforcement of the forfeiture." FED.R.CRIM.P. 46(f) (2). If, then, a bailed defendant was returned a few days after forfeiture by the bondsman, following diligent effort, justice would not ordinarily require that the forfeiture be maintained.5 But the consideration of justice governing the setting aside of the forfeiture is wholly unrelated to the propriety of punishing the bailed defendant for bail jumping. To make the operation of the statute turn on considerations of justice to the surety introduces an element of chance into the system that Congress could not be presumed to have intended. The purpose of the statute is best effectuated by giving the statute its natural meaning and recognizing that the setting aside of a forfeiture does not make the incurring of the forfeiture less culpable. While a similar result could perhaps be achieved by the court's noting on the order setting the forfeiture aside that the order is not to affect a possible Section 3146 indictment, there is no indication that this is contemplated in the statutory scheme, or even that it is proper.

The adoption of any such construction as appellant urges would have serious consequences for the public, for persons seeking release on bail, and for their sureties as well. If remission of a forfeiture at the instance of a surety produces the result for which appellant contends, either remissions would rarely be granted or the statutory deterrent to bail jumping would be rendered much less effective. Appellant's reading of Section 3146 would create an unnecessary conflict between the policy of Rule 46(f) (2), which encourages the setting aside of forfeitures if their enforcement is not required in the interest of justice, and Section 3146, which is intended to punish bail jumpers. Both policies will be furthered if the setting aside of the forfeiture is not regarded as barring a prosecution under Section 3146.

In addition, the position contended for by appellant would give the District Judge the extraordinary power to decide whether or not a bail jumper should be liable to prosecution under Section 3146. By remitting a forfeiture, the Judge could in effect grant a pardon to the bail jumper. We have no reason to suppose that Congress intended to confer this unique dispensing power on the District Court, in the absence of an express statement to that effect.

Appellant also challenges the sufficiency of the Government's case as to the second element of the offense, arguing that he did not wilfully fail to surrender himself within thirty days following the date of the forfeiture. The contention is made that he cannot legally be convicted because he was given no notice of the forfeiture and had no knowledge of it. However, the fact remains that appellant failed to surrender himself within thirty days of his receiving actual knowledge of the revocation of his bail. After the issuance of the bench warrant for appellant's arrest on April 9, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to search for him. On April 30, 1963, an agent of the Bureau located appellant's wife in an apartment in New York City. He testified that he told her that a warrant had been issued for appellant's arrest and that his bail bond had been revoked. He asked her to have appellant phone him at a given number. Appellant did not do so. Appellant's wife's apartment was kept under surveillance for more than a month thereafter. The agent was unable, however, to apprehend appellant. On June 23 the agent followed appellant's wife to Jersey City, New Jersey, and succeeded in locating appellant in a hotel there, registered under an assumed name. Appellant was arrested at that hotel on June 24.

Appellant took the stand in his own defense. He admitted that on or about April 30, 1963 his wife had told him about the visit of the FBI agent and had repeated what the agent had said about the dismissal of the appeal and the revocation of appellant's bond. But appellant did not contact the agent. The statute does not state that the defendant must have knowledge that the forfeiture has taken place. Since the purpose of the statute is to encourage persons on bail to meet the obligations in their bonds, notice to the person bailed of his obligation to appear should be sufficient. Notice of the revocation, in this case, informed appellant of his obligation to surrender himself. The terms of his bond clearly stated that he had such a duty, in the event of revocation. The information given by the agent also put him on...

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6 cases
  • United States v. Hall
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 9, 1965
    ...has committed a crime even though he may actually be innocent on the original substantive charge." (Emphasis added.)1 Franco v. United States, 342 F.2d 918 (D.C.Cir.1964), appears to be the only authority in point. While the court in that case pointed out that "the statute does not state th......
  • Babb v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit
    • February 14, 1968
    ...for "bail jumping." Migdol v. United States, 298 F.2d 513, 91 A.L.R.2d 1283 (9th Cir. 1961); contra, Franco v. United States, 119 U.S.App.D.C. 339, 342 F.2d 918 (1964). Both courts apparently believed it significant that the vacation in Migdol was granted on motion of the defendant and not ......
  • United States v. York
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Kansas
    • March 25, 1968
    ...the information was filed while the forfeiture was outstanding. However, we think the better view is stated in Franco v. United States, 119 U.S.App. D.C. 339, 342 F.2d 918 (1965), where declining to follow Migdol, the court stated that "the consideration of justice governing the setting asi......
  • State v. Werner
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • November 22, 1995
    ...States, 374 F.2d 620, 621 (5th Cir.1967) (partial remission appropriate when surety later produced defendant); Franco v. United States, 342 F.2d 918, 920 (D.C.Cir.1964) (justice does not require forfeiture be maintained when bondsperson was diligent in returning defendant a few days after f......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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