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VIOLATION OF NEUTRALITY LAWS.
$ 2775. OWING to the transition state in which the law on this topic, in consequence of the Alabama treaty, is now placed, I have not thought it expedient to reprint the chapter bearing on the question as it previously stood. That chapter, with the statutes and adjudications on them, will be found in the sixth edition.
OFFENCES AGAINST THE POST-OFFICE.
I. ROBBERY OR LARCENY FROM (a.) In what it consists, $ 2782.
(6.) Indictment, $ 2784. II. EMBEZZLEMENT FROM MAIL, S III. RECEIVING EMBEZZLED MONEY, 2782.
ETC., § 2785.
I. ROBBERY OF MAIL. $ 2779. ROBBING the carrier of the mail of the United States, or other person intrusted therewith, by stopping him on the highway, and demanding the surrender of the mail, and at the same time showing weapons calculated to take his life, putting him in fear of his life, and obtaining possession of the mail by the means aforesaid, against the will of the carrier, is such a robbery of the mail, and such a putting the life of the carrier or other person intrusted therewith in jeopardy, as will bring the offence within the act of congress. b
$ 2780. The defendant was indicted upon the act of congress for advising, procuring, and assisting one Joseph J. Straughan, a mail-carrier, to rob the mail ; and was found guilty. Upon this finding, the judges of the circuit court of North Carolina were divided in opinion on the question whether an indictment, founded on the statute for advising, &c., a mail-carrier to rob the mail, ought to set forth or aver that the said carrier did, in fact, commit the offence of robbing the mail. The answer to this, it was said by the supreme court, as an abstract proposition, “must be in the affirmative. But if the question intended to be put is, whether there must be a distinctive substantive averment of that fact, it is not necessary. The indictment, in this case, sufficiently sets out that the offence has been committed by the mail-carrier.”
b U. S. v. Hare, 2 Wheeler C. C. and in U. S. v. Bernard, Trenton, 300; 1 Cr. C. C. 82. The same law 1819. See also, U. S. r. Aminbiser, was recognized by Washington, J. in 2 Wheeler C. C. xliv. U. S. v. Wood, 3 Wash. C. C. 440, c U. S. v. Mills, 7 Peters, 138.
$ 2781. Upon an indictment for robbing the mail, and putting the person having the custody of it in jeopardy, under the 19th section of the act of April 30th, 1810, ch. 262, a sword, &c., in the hands of the robber, by terror of which the robbery is effected, is a dangerous weapon, within the act, putting the life in jeopardy ; though it be not drawn or pointed at the carrier. So a pistol in his hands, by means of which the robbery is effected, is a dangerous weapon; and it is not necessary to prove that it was charged ; it is presumed to be so until the contrary is proved. d
It is not necessary to a conviction, under the 22d section of the act above given, that the carrier of the mail should have taken the oath prescribed by the second section of the act of 1825, or that the whole mail be taken. e
§ 2781 a. All persons present at the commission of the robbery, consenting thereto, aiding, assisting, or abetting therein, or in doing any act which is a constituent of the offence, are principals. f
The word “rob,” in section 22, is used in the common law sense. g
" Jeopardy,” as used in the section, means a well-grounded apprehension of danger to life, in case of refusal to yield to threats of resistance. h
II. EMBEZZLEMENT FROM MAIL. $ 2782. (a.) In what it consists. - Where a letter is delivered to an unauthorized agent, the letter cannot be charged with having been embezzled. Whether a guilty agency existed, the jury must determine from the evidence. i To constitute the offence, the letter must have been obtained from the post-office, or from a letter-carrier ; after a voluntary delivery to a third person, the letter is no longer under the protection of the laws of the United States ; and the act of fraudulently obtaining it from such third person is not punishable under the statute.j
So an errand boy sent by his master for letters, and embezzling d U. S. v. Wood, 3 Wash. C. C. R. h Ibid. 440.
i U. S. v. Sander, 6 McL. C. C. R. e U. S. v. Wilson, 1 Baldwin's C. 598. C, R. 102.
; U. S. v. Parsons, 2 Blatch. 104-5; f Ibid.
U. S. v. Mulvaney, 4 Parker C. R. 164.
one after receiving it, cannot be convicted under this section of embezzlement. The act of congress does not operate after a delivery has been made. k
If a clerk in the post-office take a letter containing money from its appropriated place of deposit, in the post-office building, with intent to convert its contents to his own use, he is guilty of stealing it from the post-office, under the 22d section of the 3d March, 1825, although it be not removed beyond the building containing the post-office. I
$ 2783. A letter containing money, deposited in the mail for the purpose of ascertaining whether its contents were stolen on a particular route, and actually sent on a post route, is a letter intended to be sent by post within the meaning of the postoffice act. m
On a charge for stealing letters out of the mail by a postmaster or other person, it is important to have as witnesses the postmasters through whose offices the letters passed or were distributed. n
When such witnesses are not called, although there may be proof of the mailing of the letters, and that they were never received, it is not sufficient for the conviction of any postmaster on the route. O
$ 2784. (6.) Indictment. — An indictment which charges the defendant with unlawfully abstracting a letter containing bank notes from the mail, is good, if it alleges that the letter containing bank notes was put into the post-office to be conveyed by post, and came into possession of defendant, as a driver of the mail-stage. P
It is not necessary to give a particular description of a letter charged to have been secreted and embezzled by a postmaster, nor to describe the bank notes particularly, inclosed in the letter. But if either the letter or the notes be described in the indictment, they must be proved as laid. 9
It is enough to state that the letter came to the hands of the k U. S. r. Driscoll, 1 Lowell, Dec. n U. S. v. Emerson, 6 McLean C. 303; U. S. v. Parsons, 2 Blatch. 104; C. R. 406. U. S. v. Sander, 6 McLean, 598. See o Ibid. U. S. v. Pond, 2 Curtis C. C. 265.
U. S. v. Martin, 2 McLean, 256. I U. S. v. Marselis, 2 Blatch. 108. 9 U. S. v. Lancaster, 2 MeLean,
m U. S. v. Foye, 1 Curtis's R. 364; 431 ; U. S. v. Patterson, 6 Ibid. 466. 4 Stat. at Large, 102.
See U. $. v. Sander, 6 Ibid. 598.
postmaster, in the words of the statute, without showing where it was mailed, or on what route it was conveyed. r But it must be averred that the letter was intended to be conveyed by post. 8
To convict a person of stealing a letter, &c., who is employed in the department, such employment must be distinctly alleged and proved. t
It is enough, however, to aver that the defendant was a person employed in one of the departments of the post-office establishment of the United States. u
The description of the termini, between which the letter was intended to be sent by post, cannot be rejected as surplusage, but must be proved as laid. u
It is necessary to lay the property stolen on some person other than the prisoner. w
III. RECEIVING EMBEZZLED MONEY, ETC. $ 2785. It is an offence under the post-office law of 1825, 45th section, to receive or buy any article that has been stolen from the mail, knowing it to have been so stolen. x To show that the article has been stolen, the conviction of the individuals who stole it is sufficient, if the article be identified. y
When an individual, under such circumstances, is found in possession of stolen property, and fails to show how he acquired it, or gives inconsistent or contradictory accounts how he came by it, the presumption of guilt is strengthened. z r Ibid.
v U. S. v. Foye, 1 Curtis C. C. R. U. S. v. O'Kie, 5 Blatch. 516. 364. t U. S. v. Nott, 1 McLean, 499.
w Ibid. See U. S. v. Belew, 2 Brock. 280. x U. S. v. Keene, 5 McLean C. C.
u U. S. v. Patterson, 6 McLean C. R. 509. C. R. 466.
z Ibid. Ante, $ 728.