Kercheval v. United States

Citation47 S.Ct. 582,71 L.Ed. 1009,274 U.S. 220
Decision Date02 May 1927
Docket NumberNo. 705,705
PartiesKERCHEVAL v. UNITED STATES
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Messrs. William E. Leahy and William J. Hughes, Jr., both of Washington, D. C. (Mesrs. Edward J. Callahan, George R. Smith, and Wm. B. Movery, all of Minneapolis, Minn., Paul Jones and Paul Jones, Jr., both of Texarkana, Ark., H. C. Wade, of Fort Worth, Tex., and Samuel B. Wilson, Jr., of Mankato, Minn., of counsel), for petitioner.

Messrs. William D. Mitchell, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D. C., William J. Donovan, Asst. Atty. Gen., and William D. Whitney, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., for the United States.

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner was indicted in the District Court for the Western District of Arkansas under section 215 of the Criminal Code (Comp. St. § 10385) for using the mails to defraud. He pleaded guilty, and thereupon the court sentenced him to the penitentiary for three years. Afterwards he filed a petition alleging that he was induced so to plead by the promise of one of the prosecuting attorneys to recommend to the court that he be punished by sentence of three months in jail and by fine of $1,000, and by the statement of such attorney that the court would impose that sentence. The petition asserted that the sentence given was excessive and prayed to have it set aside and the punishment alleged to have been promised substituted. The United States denied the allegations of the petition. After hearing evidence on the issue, the court declined so to change the sentence, but, on petitioner's motion, set aside the judgment and allowed him to withdraw his plea of guilty and to plead not guilty. At the trial the court, against objection by petitioner, permitted the prosecution as a part of its case in chief to put in evidence a certified copy of the plea of guilty. The petitioner in defense introduced the court's order setting aside the sentence and granting leave to withdraw that plea. Then both sides gave evidence as to matters considered by the court in setting aside the conviction. The court charged the jury:

'The plea of guilty is introduced as evidence by the government. * * * If you find that Mr. Kercheval made that plea of guilty and that no promise was held out to him for the purpose of getting him to make that plea, or if you find that he was notified before he made the plea that nothing that was ever said to him with reference to it theretofore would be met, then it is evidence for you to consider in connection with the other evidence in the case. If * * * you find that he was deceived, that this was brought about by conversations that he had had with reference to it, and that he made that plea of guilty when as a matter of fact he was not guilty, then you will disregard that particular part of it and consider just the other testimony in the case.'

The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the court sentenced petitioner to the penitentiary for three years. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. 12 F.(2d) 904. It said (page 907):

'In the motion made by defendant to set aside the judgment he admits that he had pleaded guilty. The purpose was to reduce the punishment, but if this failed he asked to withdraw his plea, and that the judgment be set aside. We know of no reason why the plea of guilty was not admissible under all these circumstances for what it might be worth. It was not conclusive of guilt, and the court so instructed the jury. The defendant probably knew better than any one else whether or not be was guilty. Under the evidence in this case a plea of guilty upon his part would have seemed a very reasonable thing. We see no substantial or prejudicial error in the admission of any of the evidence complained of.'

The case is here on certiorari. 273 U. S. 685, 47 S. Ct. 244, 71 L. Ed. —.

In support of the rulings below, the United States cites Commonwealth v. Ervine, 8 Dana (Ky.) 30, People v. Jacobs, 165 App. Div. 721, 151 N. Y. S. 522, State v. Carta, 90 Conn. 79, 96 A. 411, L. R. A. 1916E, 634, People v. Boyd, 67 Cal. App. 292, 302, 227 P. 783, and People v. Steinmetz, 240 N. Y. 411, 148 N. E. 597. The arguments for admissibility to be gleaned from these cases are that the introduction of the withdrawn plea shows conduct inconsistent with the claim of innocence at the trial; that the plea is a statement of guilt having the same effect as if made out of court; that it is received on the principle which permits a confession of the accused in a lower court to be shown against him at his trial in the higher court; that it is not received as conclusive, and, like an extrajudicial confession, is not sufficient without other evidence of the corpus delicti. It is sometimes likened to prior testimony of the defendant making in favor of the prosecution.

Other decisions support the petitioner's contention that a plea of guilty withdrawn by leave of court is not admissible on the trial of the issue arising on the substituted plea of not guilty. Heim v. United States, 47 App. D. C. 485, L. R. A. 1918E, 87; State v. Meyers, 99 Mo. 107, 119, 12 S. W. 516; People v. Ryan, 82 Cal. 617, 23 P. 121; Heath v. State (Okl. Cr. App.) 214 P. 1091. And see White v. State, 51 Ga. 286, 289; Green v. State, 40 Fla. 474, 478, 24 So. 537. We think that contention is sound. A plea of guilty differs in purpose and effect from a mere admission or an extrajudicial confession; it is itself a conviction. Like a verdict of a jury it is conclusive. More is not required; the court has nothing...

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  • State v. Turner
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
    • 20 Septiembre 1995
    ...to this offense.4 The origin of this standard is a statement made by the United States Supreme Court in Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 47 S.Ct. 582, 71 L.Ed. 1009 (1927). In Kercheval, the Court stated: "Out of just consideration for persons accused of crime, courts are careful t......
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    ...of not guilty and have a trial if for any reason the granting of the privilege seems fair and just.' Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 224, 47 S.Ct. 582, 583, 71 L.Ed. 1009; State v. Brown, supra. '(W)hen a plea rests in any significant degree on a promise or agreement of the prosec......
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    ...was well-established by the time the Court decided Boykin. See id. at 747, 90 S.Ct. 1463; see also Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 223-24, 47 S.Ct. 582, 71 L.Ed. 1009 (1927) ("[A] plea of guilty shall not be accepted unless made voluntarily after proper advice and with full unders......
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    ...rule that knowledge of counsel may be imputed to a defendant. 2 Id. at 6, 222 A.2d 921; see Kercheval[423 Pa. 342] v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 223--224, 47 S.Ct. 582, Page 702 583, 71 L.Ed. 1009 (1927). Before dismissing a petition which alleges the invalidity of a guilty plea, the habe......
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15 books & journal articles
  • Other Evidence Rules
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Trial Evidence Foundations Other Evidence Rules
    • 5 Mayo 2019
    ...by the defendant prior and subsequent to the plea bargaining conference are not excludable under Rule 410. Kercheval v. United States , 274 U.S. 220 (1927). A withdrawn guilty plea is not admissible in a federal prosecution. United States v. Grant , 622 F.2d 308 (8th Cir. 1980). Even if the......
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    ...to the plea bargaining conference are not excludable under Rule 410. §821 OTHER EVIDENCE RULES 8-26 Kercheval v. United States , 274 U.S. 220 (1927). A withdrawn guilty plea is not admissible in a federal prosecution. United States v. Grant , 622 F.2d 308 (8th Cir. 1980). Even if the defend......
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    • American Criminal Law Review Vol. 44 No. 3, June 2007
    • 22 Junio 2007
    ...of such statements is intended to protect the accused's right to withdraw a plea and proceed to trial. See Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 223-24 Out of just consideration for persons accused of crime, courts are careful that a plea of guilty shall not be accepted unless made volu......
  • Other evidence rules
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Trial Evidence Foundations - 2018 Contents
    • 31 Julio 2018
    ...bargaining conference are not excludable under Rule 410. EVIDENCE RULES OTHER §821 OTHER EVIDENCE RULES 8-26 Kercheval v. United States , 274 U.S. 220 (1927). A withdrawn guilty plea is not admissible in a federal prosecution. United States v. Grant , 622 F.2d 308 (8th Cir. 1980). Even if t......
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1 provisions
  • 28 APPENDIX U.S.C. § 410 Pleas, Plea Discussions, and Related Statements
    • United States
    • US Code 2023 Edition Title 28 Appendix Federal Rules of Evidence Article IV. Relevance and Its Limits
    • 1 Enero 2023
    ...RULES Withdrawn pleas of guilty were held inadmissible in federal prosecutions in Kercheval v. United States, 274 U.S. 220, 47 S.Ct. 582, 71 L.Ed. 1009 (1927). The Court pointed out that to admit the withdrawn plea would effectively set at naught the allowance of withdrawal and place the ac......

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