People v. Walker

Decision Date15 January 1878
Citation38 Mich. 156
CourtMichigan Supreme Court
PartiesThe People v. Sylvester W. Walker
Submitted January 8, 1878

Exceptions to Lenawee.

Larceny. The facts are sufficiently given in the opinion.

Circuit court advised to set aside the verdict and grant a new trial.

Attorney General Otto Kirchner for the people.

Millard & Bean and Walker & Weaver for respondent. There can be no felonious intent where one is so drunk as to be unconscious of what he is doing. This has been held under indictments for attempting to commit suicide, Reg. v. Moore 3 C. & K., 319; passing counterfeit money, Pigman v State, 14 Ohio 555, and larceny, Nichols v. State, 8 Ohio St., 435; Roberts v. People, 19 Mich. 401. Confession does not dispense with the necessity of proof of the corpus delicti. So held in cases of receiving stolen goods, Jenkins v. State, 41 Miss. 582; murder, People v. Ruloff, 3 Parker 401; s. c., 18 N. Y., 179; casting away a ship, United States v. Johns, 1 Wash. C. C., 363; incest, Bergen v. People, 17 Ill. 426; illegal voting, State v. Symonds, 57 Me. 148; embezzlement, People v. Hennessey, 15 Wend. 147; People v. Badgley, 16 Wend. 53; blasphemy, People v. Porter, 2 Park. Crim. Cas., 14; bigamy, People v. Lambert, 5 Mich. 349; robbery, People v. Jones, 31 Cal. 565; State v. Scott, 39 Mo. 424; larceny from the person, Robinson v. State, 12 Mo. 596; larceny, Plunkett's Case, 3 City Hall Rec., 137; 1 Edwards' ed. of Phillips' Evidence: Cow. & Hill's Notes, 635, n.; State v. Morey, 2 Wis. 494; State v. Moon, 41 Wis. 684.


Cooley, J.

The defendant was convicted in the court below for the larceny of a sum of money from one Martin. All the evidence in the case tended to show that if the defendant took the money wrongfully, it was while he was under the influence of liquor, and some of it indicated that he was very drunk.

The circuit judge was requested to charge the jury, that "even if the jury should believe that defendant was intoxicated to such an extent as to make him unconscious of what he was doing at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, it is no excuse for him, and they should not take it into consideration. A man who voluntarily puts himself in condition to have no control of his actions, must be held to intend the consequences." This charge was given in reliance upon the general principle that drunkenness is no excuse for crime.

While it is true that drunkenness cannot excuse crime, it is equally true that when a certain intent is a necessary element in a crime, the crime cannot have been committed when the intent did not exist. In larceny the crime does not consist in the wrongful taking of the property, for that might be a mere trespass; but it consists in the wrongful taking with felonious intent; and if the defendant, for any reason whatever, indulged no such intent, the crime cannot have been committed. This was fully explained by Mr. Justice Christiancy in Roberts v. People, 19 Mich. 401, and is familiar law. See also Nichols v. State, 8 Ohio 435; Regina v. Moore, 3 Car. & K. 319.

This instruction being erroneous, the conviction must be set aside. It is claimed on behalf of the defendant, that the court below should be advised to order his discharge, because on the trial there was no evidence of the corpus delicti, so that he was entitled to an acquittal as matter of right. This position is based on the fact that Martin was...

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51 cases
  • State v. Swarens
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • 22 Mayo 1922
    ...the following texts and cases are cited: Roscoe, Cr. Ev. § 18; 2 Russ. Cr. § 337; Knickerbocker v. People, 43 N. Y. 177; People v. Walker, 38 Mich. 156; State v. Brady, 27 Iowa, 126; State v. Turner, 65 N. C. 592; Waters v. People, 104 Ill. The rule announced by the Supreme Court of Delawar......
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  • People v. Johnson, Docket Nos. 58560
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    ...2 Gillespie, Michigan Criminal Law & Procedure (2d ed.), § 1071, p. 1016; LaFave & Scott, Criminal Law, § 59, p. 423.11 People v. Walker, 38 Mich. 156 (1878); accord, LaFave & Scott, Supra, § 45, p. 343.12 People v. Eggleston, 186 Mich. 510, 152 N.W. 944 (1915).13 The Court of Appeals has, ......
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    ...a certain intent is a necessary element in a crime, the crime cannot have been committed when the intent did not exist." People v. Walker, 38 Mich. 156, 158 (1878). See, also, People v. Crittle, 390 Mich. 367, 212 N.W.2d 196 (1973). The applicability of the exculpatory rule rests entirely o......
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