United States v. Howell
78 U.S. 432 (1870)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Howell, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 432 432 (1870)

United States v. Howell

78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 432

Syllabus

1. The sixth section of the Act of February 25, 1862, to punish the counterfeiting of Treasury notes is not void for repugnancy in its reference to uttering or passing such counterfeited notes.

2. Nor is an indictment pursuing the language of the statute bad because it describes the note passed by the prisoner as a false, forged, and counterfeit note of the United States, issued under the authority of that statute or of other statutes authorizing the issue of such notes.

3. The words "false, forged, and counterfeit" necessarily imply that the instrument so characterized is not genuine, but only purports to be, or is in the similitude of such an instrument, and this implication is according to good usage and is supported by adjudged cases.

Page 78 U. S. 433

Howell was indicted for passing counterfeit Treasury notes under the sixth section of the Act of February 25th, 1862, [Footnote 1] which provides:

"That if any person or persons shall falsely make, forge, counterfeit, or alter, or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, counterfeited, or altered, or shall willingly aid or assist in falsely making, forging, counterfeiting, or altering any note, bond, coupon, or other security issued under the authority of this act or heretofore issued under acts to authorize the issue of Treasury notes or bonds; or shall pass, utter, publish, or sell, or attempt to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or bring into the United States from any foreign place with intent to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or shall have or keep in possession, or conceal with intent to utter, publish or sell, any such false, forged, counterfeited, or altered note, bond, coupon, or other security with intent to defraud any body corporate or politic, or any other person or persons whatsoever, every person so offending shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by fine not exceeding $5,000 and by imprisonment and confinement to hard labor not exceeding fifteen years, according to the aggravation of the offense."

The indictment contained two counts.

The first count charges that the defendant

"feloniously did pass, utter, publish, and sell, a certain false, forged, and counterfeited United States note purporting to be a United States note issued under the authority of"

said act with intent to defraud &c., well knowing the same to be false, forged, and counterfeited.

The second charged that the defendant "feloniously did pass, utter, publish, and sell, a certain false, forged, and counterfeited Treasury note, issued under the authority of" said act, with intent to defraud &c., well knowing the same to be false, forged, and counterfeited.

Demurrer to the indictment and joinder. Afterwards, on argument, the following questions occurred:

"1. Whether the second count in the indictment, in manner and form as therein stated, is in itself repugnant. "

Page 78 U. S. 434

"2. Whether the sixth section of the act is repugnant, and whether any person could, under the said act, be legally convicted of and punished for any offense whatever other than that of altering, and causing and procuring to be altered, and willingly aiding and assisting in altering a note, bond, coupon, or other security issued under authority of said act."

"3. Whether the fourth paragraph or clause of the sixth section of the act, which is in the words following, to-wit:"

" Or shall pass, utter, publish, or sell, or attempt to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or bring into the United States from any foreign place, with intent to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or shall have or keep in possession, or conceal, with intent to utter, publish or sell, any such false, forged, counterfeited or altered note, bond, coupon, or other security, with intent to defraud,"

"&c., is repugnant."

"4. Whether the defendant could, under the said fourth paragraph or clause, be legally convicted of and punished for uttering or passing a forged or counterfeit note purporting to be a United States or Treasury note issued under authority of said act."

"5. Whether he could, under the said fourth paragraph or clause, be legally convicted of and punished for any offense whatever, other than 'passing, uttering, publishing, or selling,' &c., an 'altered note, bond, coupon, or other security,' &c."

On each of which questions the opinions of the judges were opposed. Whereupon the disagreement was certified to this Court.

Page 78 U. S. 435

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.