United States v. Murdock - 284 U.S. 141 (1931)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Murdock, 284 U.S. 141 (1931)

United States v. Murdock

No. 38

Argued October 23, 26, 1931

Decided November 23, 1931

284 U.S. 141

Syllabus

1. A judgment of the district court sustaining, on demurrer, a plea to an indictment, and the effect of which, if not reversed, will be to bar further prosecution for the offense charged, is within the jurisdiction of this Court under the Criminal Appeals Act, without regard to the particular designation or form of the plea or its propriety. P. 284 U. S. 147.

2. The offense of willfully failing to supply information for the purposes of computing and assessing taxes, under the Revenue Acts of 1926, § 114(a) and of 128, § 146(a), is complete when the information, lawfully demanded, is refused, and prosecution may thereupon be had without first determining, in proceedings to compel

Page 284 U. S. 142

answer, the question whether the witness' claim of privilege under the Fifth Amendment was well taken. P. 284 U. S. 147.

3. To justify under the Fifth Amendment a refusal to give information in an investigation under a federal law in respect of a federal matter, the privilege from self-incrimination must be claimed at the time when the information is sought and refused, and must be invoked as a protection against federal prosecution; danger and claim that disclosure may lead to prosecution by a state is not enough. P. 284 U. S. 148.

4. In a prosecution for willful failure to supply information for the computation, etc., of a tax (Revenue Acts, supra,) the claim that defendant was privileged to keep silent by the Fifth Amendment is a matter of defense under the general issue of not guilty, and the use of a special plea to single this question out for determination in advance of trial is improper. P. 284 U. S. 150.

51 F.2d 389 reversed.

Appeal, under the Criminal Appeals Act, from a judgment of the district court sustaining a special plea in bar and discharging the defendant.

Page 284 U. S. 146



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