State v. Paulk

Decision Date15 February 1883
Citation18 S.C. 514
PartiesSTATE v. PAULK.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

1. Where insanity is interposed by defendant as a defense under a plea of not guilty in a criminal prosecution, the defense must be proved by a preponderance of evidence.

2. The mere interposition of such a defense without any evidence to support it, does not require the State to prove its non-existence beyond all reasonable doubt.

3. Where a criminal act was the immediate result of voluntary intoxication, and committed while it lasted, the intoxication affords no excuse as defense.

4. Where the State fully proves a prima facie case, and a special defense, such as insanity, alibi, &c., is interposed, it must be established only by such a preponderance of evidence as will satisfy the jury that the charge is not sustained beyond all reasonable doubt; if not so established, the defendant should be convicted.

Before COTHRAN, J., Union, June, 1882.

This was an indictment against Richard Paulk, a white man, for marrying Dora Brown, a mulatto woman, on April 8th, 1882. The opinion states the case.

Mr. David Johnson, Jr., for appellant.

Mr. Solicitor Duncan, contra.

The opinion of the court was delivered by

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE SIMPSON.

The defendant was indicted at the June term of the Court of Sessions, A. D. 1882, for Union county, charged with violating the provisions of the act of Assembly entitled “An act to prevent and punish the intermarrying of races,” approved December 12th, 1879. The defendant claimed immunity from conviction and punishment on account of insanity caused by gross and excessive drunkenness.

The portion of the charge which is material to the questions raised in the appeal is as follows: The judge said to the jury: “That the well-established rule upon this subject is, that every man is presumed to be sane, and consequently responsible for his acts, until the contrary is made to appear by satisfactory proof. That where the defense of insanity is interposed it must, in order to avail, be sustained by proof sufficient to bear down and overcome this presumption of sanity. The defendant undertakes to do this, and must do it not beyond a reasonable doubt, but by such preponderance of testimony as to overcome the legal presumption of sanity which attaches to every citizen of sufficient age who has not been adjudged a lunatic. That this question was solely for their determination, and must be decided upon the testimony of the witnesses whom they had seen and heard.”

Upon the matter of drunkenness as an excuse for the commission of a crime, they were charged as follows:

“The law makes a distinction between criminal acts which are the immediate result of drunkenness, and committed while it lasts, and acts produced by previous habits of gross intemperance. The former are punishable, the latter not. In other words, the law deals with results and will not punish an insane man. But insanity must exist, and be made to appear by satisfactory proof, to enable him who sets it up as a defense to escape criminal responsibility. It matters not whether that delicate and mysterious organism which we call the mind, and which is supposed to be the seat and center of volition, be destroyed by the acts of the accused or by the touch of the finger of God; if the fact of insanity existed at the time of the commission of the offense, the defendant cannot be legally convicted. But if he has failed with the proof exhibited to overcome the presumption of insanity, and you believe the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution, he is guilty and ought to be convicted. That upon this issue, as upon every material issue in the case, and upon the whole case, the accused is entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt.”

The defendant was convicted and sentenced. His counsel, on appeal, relies upon the negative of two propositions laid down in the charge: 1. That when insanity is interposed under a plea of “not guilty” by the defendant in a criminal action, it must be proved by a preponderance of evidence. 2. That when the criminal act was the immediate result of voluntary intoxication, and committed while it lasts, the intoxication affords no excuse as defense. Both of these propositions are denied by the appellant, and error is assigned because they were charged.

The argument of appellant admits the general principle, that as sanity is the normal condition, the law presumes every man to be sane, and judgment will follow, unless the contrary is proved. But it is urged, as if this had been denied to the defendant by the judge, that where insanity is set up as a defense and this becomes a question of evidence, the defendant is entitled to the benefit of all reasonable doubts in the mind of the jury on that subject, as well as all others pertaining to his guilt, and, therefore, he excepts to the charge, understanding, as he does, that defendant had been denied the benefit of this principle by the judge.

We think the defendant has misunderstood the meaning and scope of the charge. The judge said, that where the defense of insanity is interposed, it must, in order to avail, be sustained by proof sufficient to bear down and overcome this presumption of sanity. The defendant undertakes to do this, and must do it, not beyond a reasonable doubt, but by such preponderance of testimony as to overcome the legal presumption of sanity which attaches to every citizen of sufficient age who has not been adjudged a lunatic. In civil cases the truth of the facts alleged depends upon the weight or preponderance of the testimony, but in criminal cases, by the humanity of the law, the guilt of the defendant must appear beyond a reasonable doubt, and this applies to all essential elements of the crime.

As we understand the charge, Judge Cothran intended to apply this principle to the defense of the defendant, in the extracts above. He did not hold the...

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16 cases
  • State v. Long
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 7, 1912
    ... ... rule that if, upon the whole testimony, both on the part of ... the state and the defendant, the jury entertain a reasonable ... doubt as to any material point in the case, the defendant is ... entitled to the benefit of such doubt"--citing State ... v. Paulk, 18 S.C. 514; State v. Bundy, 24 S.C ... 439, 58 Am. Rep. 263; State v. Welch, 29 S.C. 4, 6 ... S.E. 894 ...          We ... think his honor was in error in charging the jury in the ... language he did; that it was misleading and prejudicial to ... the defendant; and the exceptions ... ...
  • State v. Des Champs
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1926
    ... ... 168; State v. Jackson, 36 S.C. 487, 15 S.E. 559, 31 ... Am. St. Rep. 890; State v. Anderson, 59 S.C. 229, 37 ... S.E. 820; State v. Gadsden, 70 S.C. 430, 50 S.E. 16; ... State v. Latimer, 88 S.C. 79, 70 S.E. 409; State ... v. Bundy, 24 S.C. 439, 58 Am. Rep. 263; and State v ... Paulk, 18 S.C. 514, to concur in the opinion of Mr ... Justice WATTS, although I must say that if it were an open ... question I would take the contrary view ...          I think ... that there is a very great difference between what are ... denominated the "affirmative defenses" of ... ...
  • State v. Attardo, 19951
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1975
    ...A basic principle of criminal law is that the State has the burden of proof as to all of the essential elements of the crime. State v. Paulk, 18 S.C. 514 (1883); 22A C.J.S. Criminal Law § 566, p. 307; Wharton's Criminal Evidence, Vol. 1, Section 16, p. 24. Furthermore, it has been held that......
  • State v. Hinson
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 19, 1970
    ...of the evidence, to overcome in the first place the presumption of sanity and any other proof of sanity that may be offered. State v. Paulk, 18 S.C. 514 (1883); State v. Bundy, 24 S.C. 439 (1887), and other decisions too numerous to cite. There seems to be a clear split of authority in othe......
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