Jaben v. United States, No. 347

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHARLAN
Citation14 L.Ed.2d 345,381 U.S. 214,85 S.Ct. 1365
Decision Date17 May 1965
Docket NumberNo. 347
PartiesMax JABEN, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES

381 U.S. 214
85 S.Ct. 1365
14 L.Ed.2d 345
Max JABEN, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 347.
Argued March 9, 1965.
Decided May 17, 1965.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 11, 1965.

See 86 S.Ct. 19.

Page 215

Morris A. Shenker, St. Louis, Mo., for petitioner.

Nathan Lewin, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The statute of limitations on the felony of willfully attempting to evade federal income taxes requires the Government to obtain an indictment for that offense within six years of the date of its commission, with the proviso:

'* * * Where a complaint is instituted before a commissioner of the United States within the period above limited, the time shall be extended until the

Page 216

date which is 9 months after the date of the making of the complaint before the commissioner of the United States. * * *' Internal Revenue Code of 1954, § 6531.

On April 15, 1963, the day before the six-year period was to expire, the Government filed a complaint against petitioner Jaben charging him with willfully filing a false return for the year 1956. The Commissioner determined that the complaint showed probable cause for believing that Jaben had committed the offense, and, at the Government's request, issued a summons ordering Jaben to appear at a preliminary hearing on May 15, 1963. On May 11, 1963, the preliminary hearing on the complaint was continued to May 22, 1963, at the request of the United States Attorney, and without objection by petitioner. The preliminary hearing was never held since, on May 17, 1963, the grand jury superseded the complaint procedure by returning an indictment against Jaben, one count of which covered the 1956 attempted evasion which the complaint had charged. The indictment was not returned within the normal six-year limitation period, but if the complaint filed with the Commissioner was valid for the purpose of bringing the nine-month extension into play, then the indictment was timely. Jaben moved to dismiss the count of the indictment pertaining to 1956, arguing that the complaint was insufficient because it did not show probable cause for believing that he had committed the offense. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit rejected this claim, 333 F.2d 535. We granted certiorari, 379 U.S. 878, 85 S.Ct. 150, 13 L.Ed.2d 85, to resolve a conflict with United States v. Greenberg, 320 F.2d 467, decided by the Ninth Circuit, in which an identical claim, based on a virtually identical complaint, was accepted. For reasons that follow we agree with the Eighth Circuit and affirm its judgment.

Page 217

I.

Under the Government's interpretation of § 6531, probable cause is not relevant to the complaint's ability to initiate the extension of the limitation period. Section 6531 provides that the nine-month extension is brought into play '(w)here a complaint is instituted before a commissioner of the United States' within the six-year period of limitations (supra, pp. 215-216). Rule 3 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure defines a complaint as

'* * * a written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. It shall be made upon oath before a commissioner or other officer empowered to commit persons charged with offenses against the United States.'

Since the Government's complaint stated the essential facts constituting the offense of attempted tax evasion and was made upon oath before a Commissioner, the Government contends that regardless of the complaint's adequacy for any other purposes, it was valid for the purpose of triggering the nine-month extension of the limitation period whether or not it showed probable cause. The Government would, thus, totally ignore the further steps in the complaint procedure required by Rules 4 and 5.1 Indeed

Page 218

it follows from its position that once having filed a complaint, the Government need not further pursue the complaint procedure at all, and, in the event that the defendant pressed for a preliminary hearing and obtained a dismissal of the complaint, that the Government could nonetheless rely upon the complaint as having extended the limitation period.

We do not accept the Government's interpretation. Its effort to look solely to Rule 3 and ignore the requirements of the Rules that follow would deprive the institution of the complaint before the Commissioner of any independent meaning which might rationally have led Congress to fasten upon it as the method for initiating the nine-month extension. The Commissioner's function, on that view, would be merely to rubberstamp the complaint. The Government seeks to give his role importance in its version of § 6531 by pointing out that he would administer the oath, receive the complaint, and make sure that it stated facts constituting the offense (a requirement which would be met by a charge in the words of the statute); but surely these matters are essentially formalities. The argument ignores the fact that the Commissioner's basic functions under the Rules are to make the judgment that probable cause exists and to warn defendants of their rights. Furthermore, if we do not look beyond Rule 3, there is no provision for notifying the defendant that he has been charged and the period of limitations extended. (Indeed, it is not until we reach Rule 4 that we find a requirement that the complaint

Page 219

must show who it was that committed the offense.) Notice to a criminal defendant is usually achieved by service upon him of the summons or arrest warrant provided for in Rule 4. Neither is appropriate absent a judgment by the Commissioner that the complaint shows probable cause, and no other form of notice is specified by the Rules.

More basically, the evident statutory purpose of the nine-month extension provision is to afford the Government an opportunity to indict criminal tax offenders in the event that a grand jury is not in session at the end of the normal limitation period. This is confirmed by the immediate precursor of the present section which provided for an extension 'until the discharge of the grand jury at its next session within the district.' I.R.C.1939, § 3748(a). 2 Clearly the statute was not meant to grant the Government greater time in which to make its case (a result which could have been accomplished simply by making the normal period of limitation six years and nine months), but rather was intended to deal with the situa-

Page 220

tion in which the Government has its case made within the normal limitation period but cannot obtain an indictment because of the grand jury schedule. The Government's interpretation does not reflect this statutory intention, for it provides no safeguard whatever to prevent the Government from filing a complaint at a time when it does not have its case made, and then using the nine-month period to make it.

The better view of § 6531 is that the complaint, to initiate the time extension, must be adequate to begin effectively the criminal process prescribed by the Federal Criminal Rules. It must be sufficient to justify the next steps in the process—those of notifying the defendant and bringing him before the Commissioner for a preliminary hearing. To do so the complaint must satisfy the probable cause requirement of Rule 4. Furthermore, we think that the Government must proceed through the further steps of the complaint procedure by affording the defendant a preliminary hearing as required by Rule 5, unless before the preliminary hearing is held, the grand jury supersedes the complaint procedure by returning an indictment. This interpretation of the statute reflects its purpose by insuring that within a reasonable time following the filing of the complaint, either the Commissioner will decide whether there is sufficient cause to bind the defendant over for grand jury action, or the grand jury itself will have decided whether or not to indict. A dismissal of the complaint before the indictment is returned would vitiate the time extension.

In this case the Government obtained a superseding indictment before any preliminary hearing took place. Under the interpretation which we have adopted it follows that if the complaint satisfied the requirements of Rules 3 and 4, in particular the probable cause standard of Rule 4, then the nine-month extension had come into

Page 221

play and had not been cut off by any later dismissal of the complaint.3 We turn then to the question whether the complaint showed probable cause.

II.

The Jaben complaint read as follows:

'The undersigned complainant, being duly sworn, states:

'That he is a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service and, in the performance of the duties imposed on him by law, he has conducted an investigation of the Federal income tax liability of Max Jaben for the calendar year 1956, by examining the said taxpayer's tax return for the year 1956 and other years; by identifying and interviewing third parties with whom the said taxpayer did business; by consulting public and private records reflecting the said taxpayer's income; and by interviewing third

Page 222

persons having knowledge of the said taxpayer's financial condition.

'That based on the aforesaid investigation, the complainant has personal knowledge that on or about the 16th day of April, 1957, at Kansas City, Missouri, in the Western District of Missouri, Max Jaben did unlawfully and wilfully attempt to evade and defeat the income taxes due and owing by him to the United States of America for the calendar year 1956, by filing and causing to be filed with the District Director of Internal Revenue for the District of Kansas City, Missouri, at Kansas City, Missouri, a false and fraudulent income tax return, wherein he stated that his taxable income for the calendar year 1956 was $17,665.31, and that the amount of tax due and owing thereon was the sum of $6,017.32, when in fact his taxable income for the...

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280 practice notes
  • United States v. Conway, No. 17369
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 19, 1969
    ...This purpose is served, and the hearing rendered unnecessary, by the return of an indictment. Rivera, supra; see Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 220, 85 S. Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345, rehearing denied, 382 U.S. 873, 86 S.Ct. 19, 15 L.Ed. 2d 114 (1965). Nor, we think, is it controlling t......
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...cause. Only one of the cases cited by the Court in support of its "totality of the circumstances" approach, Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345 (1965), was decided subsequent to Aguilar. It is by no means inconsistent with Aguilar.7 The other three cases 8 ci......
  • Donahue v. Wihongi, No. 19-4005
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 17, 2020
    ...only be based on the officer’s personal observation, rather than on information supplied by another person."); Jaben v. United States , 381 U.S. 214, 224, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345 (1965) (citizen-witness’s tip relevant to probable cause inquiry).17 Whether reasonable suspicion exists i......
  • People v. Sesslin, Cr. 11519
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 10, 1968
    ...as clarified in Aguilar, United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 85 S.Ct. 741, 13 L.Ed.2d 684 and Jaben v. United States (1965) 381 U.S. 214, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345, apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. (Ker v. State of California, supra, 374 U.S. 23, 83 S.Ct......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
278 cases
  • United States v. Conway, No. 17369
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • August 19, 1969
    ...This purpose is served, and the hearing rendered unnecessary, by the return of an indictment. Rivera, supra; see Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 220, 85 S. Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345, rehearing denied, 382 U.S. 873, 86 S.Ct. 19, 15 L.Ed. 2d 114 (1965). Nor, we think, is it controlling t......
  • Illinois v. Gates, No. 81-430
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • October 13, 1982
    ...cause. Only one of the cases cited by the Court in support of its "totality of the circumstances" approach, Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345 (1965), was decided subsequent to Aguilar. It is by no means inconsistent with Aguilar.7 The other three cases 8 ci......
  • Donahue v. Wihongi, No. 19-4005
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 17, 2020
    ...only be based on the officer’s personal observation, rather than on information supplied by another person."); Jaben v. United States , 381 U.S. 214, 224, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345 (1965) (citizen-witness’s tip relevant to probable cause inquiry).17 Whether reasonable suspicion exists i......
  • People v. Sesslin, Cr. 11519
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 10, 1968
    ...as clarified in Aguilar, United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 85 S.Ct. 741, 13 L.Ed.2d 684 and Jaben v. United States (1965) 381 U.S. 214, 85 S.Ct. 1365, 14 L.Ed.2d 345, apply to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. (Ker v. State of California, supra, 374 U.S. 23, 83 S.Ct......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • TAX VIOLATIONS
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...after the date of the making of the complaint before the commissioner of the United States.”). 59. Id.; see also Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 219–20 (1965) (f‌inding the purpose of the extension provision is to allow for indictments when a grand jury is unavailable, and thus requir......
  • CRIMINAL PROCEDURE - FIRST CIRCUIT INTERPRETATION OF BILATERAL INTERSTATE EXTRADITION TREATY PROTECTS MAN FROM HARROWING STATE INFLICTED TORTURE - AGUASVIVAS V. POMPEO.
    • United States
    • Suffolk Transnational Law Review Vol. 44 Nbr. 2, June 2021
    • June 22, 2021
    ...P. 4(b)(1)(B) states that the arrest warrant must "describe the offense charged in the complaint." Id. See also Jaben v. United States, 381 U.S. 214, 216, 219 (1965) (explaining service of arrest warrant). Here, the Government filed a complaint against the petitioner. Id. at 216. When deter......

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