Wells Fargo & Company Express v. State

Decision Date18 June 1906
Citation96 S.W. 189,79 Ark. 349
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Appeal from Polk Circuit Court; James S. Steel, Judge; affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.

Read & McDonough, for appellant.

1. It is admitted that it was not necessary to allege nor prove an intent to violate the law in this case, but it was admissible for the defendant to prove that it had been imposed upon by the shipper, and that it was ignorant of the fact that it was receiving game for shipment. Proof of justification or excuse must come from the defendant. 48 Ark. 27. See also 1 Bishop's Crim. Law, § 303.

2. The act (Kirby's Digest, § 3620) is unconstitutional because by its terms it applies not only to game killed within this State, but also to game killed in other States and shipped through or out of this State. 134 F. 282; Kirby's Digest, § 3618; 102 F. 540; 86 N.Y.S. 272 164 N.Y. 100; 92 U.S. 214.

Robert L. Rogers, Attorney General, and G. W. Hendricks, for appellee.

1. If the act stated that the offense consisted in "knowingly receiving" game for shipment, appellant's contention would be sound; but the offense is completed in the acceptance of the game for shipment. Kirby's Digest § 3620; 69 Ark. 185; 36 Ark. 58; 37 Ark. 108; Ib. 219; Ib. 399.

2. This court has decided that the act is constitutional. 56 Ark. 267.



At Mena, Polk County, Arkansas, W. H. Graves delivered to the appellant express company for shipment to Senter Commission Company, at St. Louis, Missouri, three packages of furs. A constable with a search warrant opened the packages while in the possession of the Express Company, and found they contained game, a saddle of venison and eight wild turkeys. The circuit court, without a jury, tried the case, and found that the agent and employees of the express company were without knowledge that the packages contained game. The court found the appellant guilty by reason of having received the game for shipment, and the express company appeals.

Two questions are presented by appellant.

1. That the evidence that the agent and employees--the company itself--had no knowledge that the packages contained game should have been held a defense.

2. That the act under which the proceeding was based is unconstitutional.

1. The statute is as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person or persons, or corporation, to ship, export or carry beyond the lines of this State any deer, turkey, wild fowl, game fish, or game of any description; and any railroad company, express company, corporation or individual, who shall ship, export, or carry, or receive for shipment, or export, or carry beyond the State line of Arkansas, any game fish, deer, turkey, or game of any kind, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be fined in any sum not less than $ 100 or more than $ 500 for each separate offense." Section 3620, Kirby's Digest.

That it is competent for the Legislature to make the receipt of game for shipment an offense, irrespective of knowledge or intent, can not be gainsaid. Clark's Crim. Law, p. 84.

If a statute makes the offense consist in knowingly or willfully doing or omitting to do an act, then there is nothing left for construction; but when, as in this instance, the statute omits such words, then it is a matter of construction, from the subject-matter and the evil to be remedied, whether such words are to be implied, or the statute enforced as written. Many statutes which are in the nature of regulations for the protection of health, morals or other public concerns are considered as making criminal the forbidden act, notwithstanding ignorance or mistake of the doer. Clark's Criminal Law, pp. 84, 86.

This court has approved this statement of the doctrine: "Where a statute commands that an act be done or omitted which, in the absence of such statute, might have been done without culpability, ignorance of the fact or state of things contemplated by the statute will not excuse its violation;" and applied it to a sale of liquor to a minor irrespective of ignorance of his minority. State v. Redmond, 36 Ark. 58.

Judge Cooley, while Chief Justice of Michigan, and speaking for the court, said:

"Many statutes which are in the nature of police regulations, as this is, impose criminal penalties irrespective of any intent to violate them; the purpose being to require a degree of diligence for the protection of the public which shall render violation impossible." People v. Roby, 52 Mich. 577, 18 N.W. 365, s. c. 50 Am. Rep. 270.

Many instances of such statutes are given in the cases and the text book cited....

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10 cases
  • State v. Cox
    • United States
    • Oregon Supreme Court
    • 25 Marzo 1919
    ... ... company, or any carrier, must know what they carry, is it ... not? ... 249, 31 L. R. A. (N. S.) 467, 20 Ann. Cas. 1152, ... Wells Fargo & Co. Express v. State, 79 Ark. 349, 96 ... S.W. 189, People ... ...
  • Jacobs v. State
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 2 Octubre 1922
    ... ... 430, 242 S.W. 818 ...          In the ... case of Wells Fargo & Co. Express v ... State, 79 Ark. 349, 96 S.W. 189, a conviction ... beyond the State. The express company defended upon the ... ground that it had no knowledge that the package ... ...
  • State v. Southern Express Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 19 Abril 1917
    ... ... by the State, on relation of Hugo L. Black, Solicitor, ... against the Southern Express Company and others. From decree ... for defendants, plaintiff appeals. Reversed and remanded, ... with ... The ... same doctrine is illustrated in Commonwealth v ... Mixer, supra, Wells Fargo Ex. Co. v. State, 79 Ark. 349, ... 96 S.W. 189, People v. Rice, 161 Mich. 657, 126 N.W ... ...
  • Ogburn v. State
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • 30 Marzo 1925
    ... ... For ... instance, in Wells Fargo & Co. Express v ... State, 79 Ark. 349, 96 S.W. 189, it was held ... beyond the limits of the State, that the express company and ... its agents had no knowledge that the package contained game ... ...
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