Huggins v. People

Decision Date01 November 1890
Citation135 Ill. 243,25 N.E. 1002
CourtIllinois Supreme Court


Error to circuit court, McLean county; ALFRED SEMPLE, Judge.

Thomas F. Tipton and Charles N. Pierce, for plaintiff in error.

Geo. Hunt, Atty. Gen., E. H. Miner, State's Atty., and E. O'Connell, Asst. State's Atty., for the People.


Plaintiff in error was indicted in the McLean circuit court for feloniously buying, for his own gain, of one William Watson, a diamond ring, of the value of $60, the goods and chattels of Josephine John, knowing that the same had been feloniously and burglariously stolen by the said William Watson. Upon the trial the jury rendered a verdict of guilty, finding the value of the property to be $35, and fixing his punishment at confinement for one year in the penitentiary. Motion for a new trial was overruled, and the defendant sentenced by the verdict.

The evidence shows that on Sunday night, ‘just before Thanksgiving day,’ A. D. 1888, while the family were at church, the house of Thomas John in said county was burglariously entered, and a solitaire diamond ring, the property of Josephine John, was stolen. The value of the ring is shown to be between $35 and $60. The corpus delicti, the larceny, is clearly established, and also that the larceny was committed at the burglary. By the statute (sections 239, 241, Crim. Code) the offense of receiving or buying stolen property, or aiding in concealing the same, for gain, or to prevent the owner from repossessing himself thereof, with knowledge that it has been stolen, is made a substantive crime subject to punishment, without reference to the trial or conviction of the person committing the larceny. And the name of the thief, or of the person from whom the defendant received or bought the stolen property, not being matter necessary to the identification of the offense, need not be alleged or proved. But where the pleader, although unnecessarily, alleges the commission of the larceny, or burglary, or robbery, by a particular person, or that the property was bought or received of a particular person, the allegation becomes matter of description, and must be proved as laid. 2 Bish. Crim. Proc. § 982; 3 Chio. Crim. Law, 991, and authorities cited. The date of the larceny is fixed, as on Sunday night, ‘just before Thanksgiving day,’ in November, 1888, no witness seeming able to give the precise day. It is shown by the testimony of two witnesses that in November, 1888, William Watson, the person charged with the larceny, had the stolen ring, which the witnesses identify, in his possession, and sold it to plaintiffin error. The defendant below, Huggins, testifies that he bought the ring of said Watson for $10 ‘about a week before Thanksgiving,’ in 1888; that Watson was then wearing the ring, and claiming it as his own. It is clear, therefore, that Watson, almost immediately after the larceny, was in the possession of the stolen property, and the presumption of fact arising from such possession, unexplained, would have warranted his conviction of the burglary and larceny. No explanatory proof occurs in this record, and we think the jury were justified in finding the allegations of the indictment in this respect sustained by the evidence. The buying of the stolen property is admitted, but it was necessary in this case, there being no count for concealing or aiding in the concealment of the property, for the people to prove the guilty knowledge of the defendant at the time of the purchase; that is, that he then had knowledge that the property was stolen property. It rarely happens that direct and positive proof of the guilty knowledge is attainable, unless the thief be produced for that purpose. It is therefore ordinarily to be shown, by proof of attending facts and circumstances, from which, by the common understanding and experience of men, the inference of the fact arises. Thus, numerous circumstances may be shown, as that the purchase was for much less than the real value; that the defendant denied that the property was in his possession, or concealed it; his failure to make reasonable explanation; the evil reputation of the person from whom purchased or received, and the like. 2 Bish. Crim. Proc. § 991; 1 Whart. Crim. Law, § 983, cases cited. The knowledge of the theft need not be that actual or positive knowledge which one acquires from personal observation of the fact. ‘It is sufficient if the circumstances were such, accompanying the transaction, as to make the prisoner believe the goods were stolen.’ 2 Bish. Crim. Law, § 1138; 1 Whart. Crim. Law, § 984. If he purchase or receive the goods with the belief that they are stolen, he will be held to have had that knowledge required by the statute. The knowledge of the prisoner, in this sense, is the gist of the offense, and must be found by the jury as a fact. In determining whether the fact existed, the jury will be justified in presuming that the prisoner acted rationally, and that whatever would convey knowledge, or induce the belief, in the mind of a reasonable person, would, in the absence of countervailing evidence, be sufficient to apprise the prisoner of the like fact, or induce in his mind the like impression and belief.

An examination of the evidence in this record will carry conviction, it seems to us, to any unbiased mind, of the guilt of this defendant. He knew the negro man, Watson, had been in the penitentiary. He was himself without means or business, and, meeting Watson, saw the ring in his possession, and upon Watson's offer to sell bought it at one fourth or fifth of its value. No questions were asked, or inquiries made as to where or how Watson procured it, or as to its value. Nor does it appear that any price other than that paid was asked, or that its value was talked...

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51 cases
  • State v. Swarens
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 22, 1922
    ...Ind. 78, 85 N. E. 776, 16 Ann. Cas. 1212; Gravitt v. State, 114 Ga. 841, 40 S. E. 1003, 88 Am. St. Rep. 63; Huggins v. People, 135 Ill. 243, 25 N. E. 1002, 25 Am. St. Rep. 357; Cooper v. State, 29 Tex. App. 8, 13 S. W. 1011, 25 Am. St. Rep. 712; Lehman v. State, 18 Tex. App. 174, 51 Am. Rep......
  • The State v. Swarens
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 22, 1922
    ... ... [ Engleman v. State, 2 Ind. 91; Gravitt v ... State, 114 Ga. 841, 40 S.E. 1003; Huggins v ... People, 135 Ill. 243, 25 N.E. 1002; Cooper v ... State, 29 Tex.App. 8, 13 S.W. 1011; Lehman v ... State, 18 Tex.App. 174; Stokes v ... ...
  • People v. Holtzman
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • November 18, 1953
    ...if the circumstances accompanying the transaction were such as to make the prisoner believe the goods had been stolen. Huggins v. People, 135 Ill. 243, 25 N.E. 1002. In the instant case, the record discloses that the defendant purchased the shirts for $1 apiece, and promptly marked them for......
  • State v. Richmond
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • January 31, 1905
    ...conduct and behavior, the character of the person from whom received, and the kind of goods, and the hour when received." [Huggins v. People, 135 Ill. 243, 25 N.E. 1002; Frank v. State, 67 Miss. 125, 6 So. 842; v. State, 103 Ala. 83, 15 So. 857; People v. Schooley, 149 N.Y. 99, 43 N.E. 536;......
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