United States v. Bishop,
412 U.S. 346 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Bishop, 412 U.S. 346 (1973)

United States v. Bishop

No. 71-1698

Argued January 16, 1973

Decided May 29, 1973

412 U.S. 346


Respondent was convicted of violating 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1), which makes it a felony when one "[w]illfully makes and subscribes any return . . . which he does not believe to be true and correct as to every material matter," after the District Court refused a lesser included offense jury charge under § 7207, which makes it a misdemeanor when one "willfully delivers or discloses" to the Internal Revenue Service any return or document "known by him to be fraudulent or to be false as to any material matter." The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that "willfully," as used in § 7206, implied an evil motive and bad faith, but the same word, as used in § 7207, required only a showing of unreasonable, capricious, or careless disregard for the truth.

Held: The word "willfully" has the same meaning in §§ 7206(1) and 7207, connoting the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty, and the distinction between the statutes is found in the additional misconduct that is essential to the violation of the felony provision; hence, the District Court properly refused the requested lesser included offense instruction based on respondent's erroneous contention that the word "willfully" in the misdemeanor statute implied less scienter than the same word in the felony statute. Pp. 412 U. S. 350-361.

455 F.2d 612, reversed and remanded. ,

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting statement, post, p. 412 U. S. 362.

Page 412 U. S. 347

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