United States v. Moreland,
258 U.S. 433 (1922)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Moreland, 258 U.S. 433 (1922)

United States v. Moreland

No. 629

Argued March 9, 10, 1922

Decided April 17, 1922

258 U.S. 433


1. Imprisonment at hard labor, whether in a penitentiary or elsewhere, is an infamous punishment within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment, and prosecution for a crime so punishable must be by indictment or presentment by a grand jury. P. 258 U. S. 435. Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U. S. 228, and Ex parte Wilson, 114 U. S. 417, followed; Fitzpatrick v. United States, 178 U. S. 304, distinguished.

2. Hence, a prosecution in the Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia for the crime of willfully neglecting or refusing to provide for the support and maintenance of minor children, defined by the Act of March 23, 1906, and thereby made punishable by a fine or by imprisonment at hard labor in the workhouse of the District, or by both, cannot be by information. P. 258 U. S. 438.

3. It is the punishment which may be, and not that which actually is, imposed under the statute that determines the right to prosecute otherwise than through a grand jury. P. 258 U. S. 441.

4. Where an act defining a misdemeanor provides for punishment by fine or imprisonment at hard labor, the provision as to hard labor cannot be treated as severable to sustain a prosecution by information. P. 258 U. S. 441.

276 F. 640 affirmed.

Certiorari to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia which reversed a judgment of the Juvenile Court of the District sentencing the respondent to six months' imprisonment in the workhouse for the misdemeanor of willfully neglecting to support his minor children, in violation of the Act of March 23, 1906, c. 1131, 34 Stat. 86. The sentence was based on the verdict of a jury finding respondent guilty of this offense. The judgment under review directed that the complaint in the Juvenile Court be dismissed. The Act of March 19, 1906, c. 960, § 12, 34, Stat. 73, creating the Juvenile Court, provided that prosecutions therein should be on information

Page 258 U. S. 434

of the corporation counsel or his assistant. The Act of June 18, 1912, c. 171, § 8, 37 Stat. 134, conferred upon that court concurrent jurisdiction with the Supreme Court of the District in all cases arising under the Act of March 23, 1906, supra.

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