United States v. Stowell,
133 U.S. 1 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Stowell, 133 U.S. 1 (1890)

United States v. Stowell

No. 167

Submitted December 2, 1889

Decided January 20, 1890

133 U.S. 1




Statutes to prevent frauds upon the revenue, although they impose penalties or forfeitures, are not to be construed, like penal laws generally, strictly in favor of the defendant, but they are to be fairly and reasonably construed so as to carry out the intention of the legislature.

The forfeiture imposed by the Act of February 8, 1875, c. 36, § 16, for carrying on the business of a distiller without having given bond, or with intent to defraud the United States of the tax on the spirits distilled, includes all personal property owned by other persons, knowingly and voluntarily permitted by them to remain on any part of the premises and actually used, either in the unlawful business or in any other business openly carried on there; but in the lot of land on which the distillery is situated, only the right, title, and interest of the distiller, and of persons who have consented to the carrying on of the business of a distiller thereon, is forfeited. And there is a like forfeiture of personal property under Rev.Stat. § 3258 for setting up an unregistered still, and of personal property and interests in real estate under § 3305, for omitting to keep books as required by law.

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