Yee Hem v. United States, No. 303

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSUTHERLAND
Citation45 S.Ct. 470,268 U.S. 178,69 L.Ed. 904
PartiesYEE HEM v. UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 303
Decision Date27 April 1925

268 U.S. 178
45 S.Ct. 470
69 L.Ed. 904
YEE HEM

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 303.
Argued March 19, 1925.
Decided April 27, 1925.

Messrs. Gerard J. Pilliod and Joseph C. Breitenstein, both of Cleveland, Ohio, for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 178-180 intentionally omitted]

Page 181

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Donovan, for the United States.

Mr. Justice SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plaintiff in error was convicted in the court below of the offense of concealing a quantity of smoking opium after importation, with knowledge that it had been imported in violation of Act Feb. 9, 1909, c. 100, 35 Stat. 614, as amended by Act Jan. 17, 1914, c. 9, 38 Stat. 275 (Comp. St. §§ 8800-8801f). Sections 2 and 3 of the act as amended (Comp. St. §§ 8801, 8801a) are challenged as unconstitutional, on the ground that they contravene the due process of law and the compulsory self-incrimination clauses of the Fifth Amendment of the federal Constitution.

Section 1 of the Act (Comp. St. § 8800) prohibits the importation into the United States of opium in any form after April 1, 1909, except that opium and preparations and derivatives thereof, other than smoking opium or opium prepared for

Page 182

smoking, may be imported for medicinal purposes only, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. Section 2 provides, among other things, that if any person shall conceal or facilitate the concealment of such opium, etc., after importation, knowing the same to have been imported contrary to law, the offender shall be subject to fine or imprisonment or both. It further provides that whenever the defendant on trial is shown to have, or to have had, possession of such opium, etc., 'such possession shall be deemed sufficient evidence to authorize conviction unless the defendant shall explain the possession to the satisfaction of the jury.' Section 3 provides that on and after July 1, 1913:

'All smoking opium or opium prepared for smoking found within the United States shall be presumed to have been imported after the first day of April, nineteen hundred and nine, and the burden of proof shall be on the claimant or the accused to rebut such presumption.'

The plaintiff in error, at the time of his arrest in August, 1923, was found in possession of and concealing a quantity of smoking opium. The lower court overruled a motion for an instructed verdict of not guilty, and, after stating the foregoing statutory presumptions, charged the jury in substance that the burden of proof was on the accused to rebut such presumptions; and that it devolved upon him to explain that he was rightfully in possession of the smoking opium—'at least explain it to the satisfaction of the jury.' The court further charged that the defendant was presumed to be innocent until the government had satisfied the minds of the jurors of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; that the burden to adduce such proof of guilt beyond the existence of a reasonable doubt rested on the government at all times and throughout the trial; and that a conviction could not be had 'while a rational doubt remains in the minds of the jury.'

Page 183

The authority of Congress to prohibit the importation of opium in any form and, as a measure reasonably calculated to aid in the enforcement of the prohibition, to make its concealment with knowledge of its unlawful importation a criminal offense, is not open to doubt. Brolan v....

To continue reading

Request your trial
288 practice notes
  • United States v. Seven Oaks Dairy Co., No. 4068
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 17, 1935
    ...v. Shepard), 230 U. S. 352, 33 S. Ct. 729, 57 L. Ed. 1511, 48 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1151, Ann. Cas. 1916A, 18; Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U. S. 178, 45 S. Ct. 470, 69 L. Ed. 904; Di Santo v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 273 U. S. 34, 47 S. Ct. 267, 71 L. Ed. While it is true that these cases......
  • State v. Brown
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 3, 1972
    ...63, 70, 85 S.Ct. 754, 13 L.Ed.2d 658; Casey v. United States, 276 U.S. 413, 418, 48 S.Ct. 373, 72 L.Ed. 632; Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 183-185, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904; McKelvey v. United States, 260 U.S. 353, 356, 43 S.Ct. 132, 67 L.Ed. 301; Smith v. United States, 106 U.S......
  • United States v. Gerhart, Cr. A. No. 513 (Beckley)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • October 1, 1967
    ...simply from the force of circumstances and not from any form of compulsion forbidden by the Constitution. See Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 185, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904 (1925). As to the last of defendant's constitutional objections, it is quite clear to me that § 1952 does not......
  • U.S. v. Chiantese, No. 75-3534
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 14, 1977
    ...to produce any evidence. Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 138-39, 75 S.Ct. 127, 99 L.Ed. 150 (1954); Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904 (1925); United States v. Lake, 482 F.2d 146, 149 (9th Cir. 1973); United States v. Broadhead, 413 F.2d 1351, 1361 (7......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
288 cases
  • United States v. Seven Oaks Dairy Co., No. 4068
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • May 17, 1935
    ...v. Shepard), 230 U. S. 352, 33 S. Ct. 729, 57 L. Ed. 1511, 48 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1151, Ann. Cas. 1916A, 18; Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U. S. 178, 45 S. Ct. 470, 69 L. Ed. 904; Di Santo v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 273 U. S. 34, 47 S. Ct. 267, 71 L. Ed. While it is true that these cases......
  • State v. Brown
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • May 3, 1972
    ...63, 70, 85 S.Ct. 754, 13 L.Ed.2d 658; Casey v. United States, 276 U.S. 413, 418, 48 S.Ct. 373, 72 L.Ed. 632; Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 183-185, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904; McKelvey v. United States, 260 U.S. 353, 356, 43 S.Ct. 132, 67 L.Ed. 301; Smith v. United States, 106 U.S......
  • United States v. Gerhart, Cr. A. No. 513 (Beckley)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Southern District of West Virginia
    • October 1, 1967
    ...simply from the force of circumstances and not from any form of compulsion forbidden by the Constitution. See Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 185, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904 (1925). As to the last of defendant's constitutional objections, it is quite clear to me that § 1952 does not......
  • United States v. Cox, No. 71-1108
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • June 5, 1972
    ...is that the Fifth Amendment precludes only compulsory self-incrimination while "the statute compels nothing." Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178, 185, 45 S.Ct. 470, 69 L.Ed. 904 (1925). § 174 merely permits a jury to infer illegal importation and does so solely because it is virtually i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT