Coffey v. Harlan County - 204 U.S. 659 (1907)
U.S. Supreme Court
Coffey v. Harlan County, 204 U.S. 659 (1907)
Coffey v. Harlan County
Argued January 24, 1907
Decided February 25, 1907
204 U.S. 659
The power of the state to enact laws creating and defining crimes against its sovereignty, regulating procedure in the trial of those charged with committing them, and prescribing the character of the sentence of those found guilty is absolute and without limits other than those prescribed by the Constitution of the United States.
The statute of Nebraska providing that one embezzling public money shall be imprisoned and pay a fine equal to double the amount embezzled, which shall operate as a judgment for the use of the persons whose money was embezzled, is not unconstitutional as depriving the person convicted of embezzlement of his property without due process of law because it provides for such judgment irrespective of whether restitution has been made or not.
In such a case the fine is a part of the punishment, and it is immaterial whether it is called a penalty or a civil judgment, and the only question on which defendant can be heard is as to the fact and amount of the embezzlement, and if he has an opportunity to be heard as to that, he is not denied due process of law.
The facts are stated in the opinion.