United States v. Lacher
134 U.S. 624 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lacher, 134 U.S. 624 (1890)

United States v. Lacher

No. 654

Submitted March 28, 1890

Decided April 14, 1890

134 U.S. 624

Syllabus

Section 5467 of the Revised Statutes creates two distinct classes of offenses: the one relating to the embezzlement of letters, etc.; the other relating to stealing their contents.

Sections 3591 and 5467 of the Revised Statutes are to be construed together -- the offenses of secreting, embezzling or destroying mail matter which contains articles of value being punishable under the one, and like offenses as to mail matter which does not contain such articles being punishable under the other.

When there is an ambiguity in a section of the Revised Statutes, resort may be had to the original statute from which the section was taken, to ascertain what, if any, change of phraseology there is, and whether such change should be construed as changing the law.

Penal statutes, like all others, are to be fairly construed according to the legislative intent, as expressed in the act.

The Court again declines to answer a certified question which contains no clear and distinct proposition of law.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 134 U. S. 625

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