Rivers v. State

Citation97 Ala. 72,12 So. 434
Decision Date06 February 1893
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

12 So. 434

97 Ala. 72


Supreme Court of Alabama

February 6, 1893

Appeal from city court of Montgomery; Thomas M. Arrington, Judge.

Bill Rivers was convicted of giving a person money to induce him to commit perjury, and appeals. Reversed.

John Gindrat Winter, for appellant.

Wm. L. Martin, Atty. Gen., for the State.


The defendant was indicted and prosecuted under section 3920 of the Criminal Code. A demurrer to the indictment was overruled, and this ruling of the court presents the first question for our consideration. We have held that under our system of pleading "indictments are rather a statement of legal conclusions than of facts." The forms given in the Code, and which have been declared sufficient in cases to which they are applicable, fully sustain the proposition. The statute (Code § 4366) provides that "in other cases [when the forms are not given] forms may be used as near similar as the nature of the case and the rules prescribed in this chapter will permit." The rule here stated must be construed in connection with, and as explained by, section 4368 of the same chapter of the Code, which is as follows: "4368. Statement of the Offense. An indictment must state the facts constituting the offense in ordinary and concise language, without prolixity or repetition, in such manner as to enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended, and with that degree of certainty which will enable the court, on conviction, to pronounce the proper judgment," etc. These statutory enactments are subject to the constitutional provision [1] that "the accused has a right to demand the nature and cause of the accusation." The constitutional requirement is that he shall know both the "nature and cause" of the accusation. Apply these rules of law to the present indictment. It charges that "Bill Rivers did corruptly give or offer to one Isham Warren three dollars in money, which was a valuable thing, with intent to induce or influence said Warren to commit a certain crime punishable as a felony, to wit, the crime of perjury, against the peace and dignity," etc. By section 3920 the corruptly giving, or offer to give, or promise of, any gift, gratuity, or thing of value to another person, with the intent to induce or influence such person to commit any crime or offense punishable as a felony, (in this case, perjury,) is made a felony. Sections 3906 and 3907 of the Code define "perjury" and "subornation of perjury," and for the offense of perjury the form for an indictment is prescribed. Without section 3920, a person indicted for subornation of perjury under section 3906 might have been convicted for an "attempt" to suborn another; this not only on the principle that an indictment for the offense included every "attempt" to commit the offense, but is authorized by the statute. Code, § 4482; Edmond's Case, 70 Ala. 8; Wolf's Case, 41 Ala. 412. The "attempt" to commit the offense, under section 3906, formerly was only a misdemeanor, but by section 3920 the attempt, when made by corruptly giving, offering, or promising a "gift, gratuity, [12 So. 435] or promise, or thing of value," was made a felony. Where the means were corruptly used, and accomplished the purpose intended, and procured the false swearing, the party is indictable under...

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19 cases
  • Burns v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 6 Octubre 1932
    ...in accordance with the provisions of statute. Sections 4527, 4547, and § 4556, form 76; Billingslea v. State, 68 Ala. 486; Rivers v. State, 97 Ala. 72, 12 So. 434; Doss State, 220 Ala. 30, 123 So. 231, 68 A. L. R. 712, and authorities there cited. The record discloses that a venire of one h......
  • Kennedy v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • 2 Diciembre 1958
    ...be borne in mind that under our system of pleading, indictments are rather a statement of legal conclusions, than of facts. Rivers v. State, 97 Ala. 72, 12 So. 434; Boyd v. State, 3 Ala.App. 178, 57 So. 1019.' And after discussing the exception to our conclusionary form of accusation as app......
  • State v. Donovan
    • United States
    • Court of General Sessions of Delaware
    • 5 Febrero 1914
    ...... out in the indictment. State v. Hefner, 129 N.C. 548, 40 S.E. 2; Beale's Cr. Pl. 140-197; U.S. v. Wardell (C. C.) 49 F. 914; U.S. v. Potter (C. C.) 56 F. 83; Ledbetter v. U.S. 170 U.S. 606,. 18 S.Ct. 774, 42 L.Ed. 1162; U.S. v. Carll, 105 U.S. 611, 26 L.Ed. 1135; Rivers v. State, 97 Ala. 72, 12. So. 435. . . As to. the second count, is a mere solicitation to commit a crime. without any act done in furtherance thereof indictable?. . . It has. been held so to be by at least one standard text-writer and. in several cases. 1 Bishop, ......
  • Gayden v. State, 3 Div. 722
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 12 Mayo 1955
    ......588 (this case apparently decided before the practice of using bills of particulars became prevalent in federal courts, 4 Barron, Federal Practice and Procedure, p. 32). See also State v. Seay, 3 Stew. 123, 131; Danner v. State, 54 Ala. 127; Grattan v. State, 71 Ala. 344; Rivers v. State, 97 Ala. 72, 12 So. 434. These two related principles are so well understood it is hardly necessary to mention them except to point out that there is nothing magical about the words of the statute concerning an indictment charging in that language when a person's constitutional rights are ......
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