People v. Sickles,

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtGRAY
Citation156 N.Y. 541,51 N.E. 288
Decision Date04 October 1898
PartiesPEOPLE v. SICKLES.

156 N.Y. 541
51 N.E. 288

PEOPLE
v.
SICKLES.

Court of Appeals of New York.

Oct. 4, 1898.


Appeal from supreme court, appellate division, Second department.

Livingston Sickles was convicted of robbery in the first degree, as a second offense, and from a judgment of the appellate division (50 N. Y. Supp. 377), affirming the judgment of conviction, appeals. Affirmed.

Bartlett, J., dissenting.


[156 N.Y. 541]Martin W. Littleton, for appellant.

156 N.Y. 542]Robert H. Elder, for the People.
[156 N.Y. 543]GRAY, J.

The defendant was indicted for the crime of robbery in the first degree, as a second offense, and, on being arraigned, entered a plea of not guilty. He was tried and found guilty by the verdict of a jury, and, upon appeal, the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the appellate division. When the trial was moved, and before the jury was impaneled, the defendant admitted his former

[51 N.E. 289

conviction, and he thereafter sought to have evidence thereof excluded. His objection to such evidence was overruled, and the exception taken to the ruling raises the question presented now for our review.

I think there was no error in the ruling. The prevailing opinion below, by Mr. Justice Cullen, has very ably discussed the question involved, and leaves little to be said. Indeed, the question may be regarded as practically settled upon the authority of certain decisions of this court.

The argument against the correctness of the ruling, in substance, is twofold. In the first place, it is argued that a correct construction of section 688 of the Penal Code, which provides for an increased penalty where there is the commission[156 N.Y. 544]of a crime after a previous conviction of the offender, only authorizes the introduction of the evidence of such former conviction after the jury has found the defendant guilty of the crime for which he is being tried. In the second place, it is argued that if such a construction be not given and such evidence is made admissible as part of the case against the prisoner, then certain rights secured to him by the constitution and laws of the state are invaded, in that he is deprived of his liberty without due process of law, and is not given the benefit of the presumption of innocence.

The first of these positions is taken upon the language of the section, which reads that ‘a person, who, after having been convicted within this state, of a felony, * * * commits any crime, within this state, is punishable upon conviction of such second offense, as follows,’ etc. It is argued that the words, ‘upon conviction of such second offense,’ warrant the view that it was not intended that the fact of the former conviction should be used by the prosecution until after the defendant has been found guilty of the offense for which he is being tried. The statute in question is not dealing with, nor regulating, criminal procedure, but is declaring the enhanced penalty which a subsequent offender against the laws of the state will incur upon conviction. When the people present a case under its provisions, the procedure to establish it is governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The indictment of the person accused of being a second offender must bring the case within the statute by setting forth the facts depended upon for the imposition of the severer punishment prescribed by the Penal Code. People v. Powers, 6 N. Y. 50;Wood v. People, 53 N. Y. 511;Johnson v. People, 55 N. Y. 512. This is necessary in penal proceedings, in order that the defendant may be clearly informed of the charge which he is called upon to meet. The Code of Criminal Procedure requires it, and it is in accord with all just penal legislation. In such a case as this, the charge is not merely that the prisoner has committed the offense specifically [156 N.Y. 545]described, but that, as a former convict, his second offense has subjected him to an enhanced penalty. In Wood v. People, supra, it was held that it was an essential ingredient of the aggravated offense, charged upon the accused, that the alleged felony was committed after a former conviction of an offense, and that the prior conviction entered into and made a part of the offense of which the accused was convicted. Judge Allen observed that, ‘when the statute describes the offense, the proof, as well as the allegations of the indictment, must bring the case within the statute. * * * The defendant should be brought within all the material words of the statute, as well by the proof as by the indictment.’ In Johnson v. People, supra, it was said that, as ‘a more severe penalty is denounced by the statute for a second offense, all the facts to bring the case within the statute must be established upon the trial.’ Section 388 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in prescribing the order of procedure upon trial, provides that the prosecution ‘must open the case and offer the evidence in support of the indictment.’

The objection of the appellant is aimed at the procedure by which the people established the charge and made a case under the Penal Code, but the statute and the cases seem conclusive upon the question of the proof required of the prosecution. It is not easy to see how, in the absence of some statutory provision permitting it, the defendant can plead in part, and thus restrict the issue and the proof to be offered under the indictment. His admission of the former conviction, if made upon the trial, before the jury, may render evidence thereof unnecessary to be given; but whether it is made, or...

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80 practice notes
  • Almendarez-Torres v. U.S., 966839
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1998
    ...e.g., Massey v. United States, 281 F. 293, 297-298 (C.A.8 1922); Singer v. United States, 278 F. 415, 420 (C.A.3 1922); People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (N.Y.1898); see also post, at __-__ (citing authority). We do not find this claim convincing, however, for any such tradi......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 1734-03-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • August 9, 2005
    ...it," a defendant can insist that the prior convictions be excluded from the guilt phase of the principal charge. People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (1898). The common law, moreover, rejected any "legal presumption" that ordering the proof in this manner would compromise the i......
  • State v. Manussier, No. 61906-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 8, 1996
    ...it is the duty of the judicial branch of [921 P.2d 493] the government to uphold them whenever brought into question. People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 547-48, 51 N.E. 288 (1898) (cited in State v. Dale, 110 Wash. 181, 184, 188 P. 473 The provision in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 relied......
  • Apprendi v New Jersey, 99478
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2000
    ...all the facts to bring the case within the statute must be [alleged in the indictment and] established on the trial"); People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 544-545, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (1898) (reaffirming Wood and Johnson and explaining that "the charge is not merely that the prisoner has committe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
80 cases
  • Almendarez-Torres v. U.S., 966839
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1998
    ...e.g., Massey v. United States, 281 F. 293, 297-298 (C.A.8 1922); Singer v. United States, 278 F. 415, 420 (C.A.3 1922); People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (N.Y.1898); see also post, at __-__ (citing authority). We do not find this claim convincing, however, for any such tradi......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 1734-03-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • August 9, 2005
    ...it," a defendant can insist that the prior convictions be excluded from the guilt phase of the principal charge. People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (1898). The common law, moreover, rejected any "legal presumption" that ordering the proof in this manner would compromise the i......
  • State v. Manussier, No. 61906-9
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 8, 1996
    ...it is the duty of the judicial branch of [921 P.2d 493] the government to uphold them whenever brought into question. People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 547-48, 51 N.E. 288 (1898) (cited in State v. Dale, 110 Wash. 181, 184, 188 P. 473 The provision in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981 relied......
  • Apprendi v New Jersey, 99478
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2000
    ...all the facts to bring the case within the statute must be [alleged in the indictment and] established on the trial"); People v. Sickles, 156 N.Y. 541, 544-545, 51 N.E. 288, 289 (1898) (reaffirming Wood and Johnson and explaining that "the charge is not merely that the prisoner has committe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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