Cannon v. United States,
116 U.S. 55 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cannon v. United States, 116 U.S. 55 (1885)

Cannon v. United States

Argued November 20, 23, 1885

Decided December 14, 1885

116 U.S. 55


The offense of cohabiting with more than one woman, created by § 3 of the Act of Congress of March 22, 1882, ch. 47, 22 Stat. 31, in regard to polygamy in the Territory of Utah, is committed by a man who lives in the same house with two women, and eats at their respective tables one-third of his time, or thereabouts, and holds them out to the world, by his language or conduct, or both, as his wives, and it is not necessary to the commission of the offense that he and the two women, or either of them, should occupy the same bed or sleep in the same room or that he should have sexual intercourse with either of them.

An indictment under that section charged a male person with having unlawfully cohabited with more than one woman continuously for a specified time, naming two women, but did not allege that he was a male person, nor that he cohabited with the women as wives or as persons held out as wives. The statute provides that "if any male person . . . , hereafter cohabits with more than one woman, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor." The defendant pleaded not guilty


1. Under the Criminal Procedure Act of Utah of February, 22, 1878, Laws of 1878, p. 91, objections taken to the indictment after a jury was sworn that it did not contain the allegations before mentioned were properly overruled.

2. The word "cohabit" in the statute means "to live together as husband and wife," and its use in the indictment includes every element of the offense created, as above defined, and the allegation of cohabiting with the two women as wives is not an extrinsic fact, but is covered by the allegation of cohabiting with them.

3. The case of United states v. Carll, 105 U. S. 611, distinguished.

This was a writ of error to bring up for review proceedings in the Supreme Court of the Territory of Utah in the indictment

Page 116 U. S. 56

and conviction of the plaintiff in error for unlawfully cohabiting with more than one woman. The facts which make the case are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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