Freeman v. United States - 217 U.S. 539 (1910)
U.S. Supreme Court
Freeman v. United States, 217 U.S. 539 (1910)
Freeman v. United States
Submitted April 11, 1910
Decided May 16, 1910
217 U.S. 539
Provisions carried into the Philippine bill of rights by the statute of July 1, 1902, c. 1369, 32 Stat. 691, such as "that no person hall be imprisoned for debt," are to be interpreted and enforced according to their well known meaning at the time. Kepner v. United States, 195 U. S. 100.
Statutes relieving from imprisonment for debt, as generally interpreted, relate to commitment of debtors for liability on contracts, and not to enforcement of penal statutes providing for payment of money
as a penalty for commission of an offense and the provision against imprisonment for debt in the Philippine bill of rights as continued in § 5 of the Act of July 1, 1902, c. 1369, 3 Stat. 61.
The fact that a money penalty imposed for embezzlement goes to the creditor and not into the public treasury does not make imprisonment for nonpayment of the penalty imprisonment for debt, and so held as to § 5, Art. 535, of the Penal Code of the Philippine Islands.
Where the statute provides a penalty for embezzlement to the amount proved, to go to the creditor, and a subsidiary sentence of imprisonment in case of nonpayment, the court may, without violating fundamental principles of justice, find the amount wrongfully converted for the purpose of fixing sentence in the criminal action, leaving the creditor his remedy in a civil action for any excess due him over the amount of the sentence, and so held as to a conviction for embezzlement under Article 535 of the Penal Code of the Philippine Islands.
The facts, which involve the validity of a conviction for embezzlement under § 535 of the Philippine Code, are stated in the opinion.