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U.S. Supreme Court

Friedenstein v. United States, 125 U.S. 224 (1888)

Friedenstein v. United States

No. 178

Argued February 10, 1888

Decided March 19, 1888

125 U.S. 224


In a suit in rem against certain diamonds seized as forfeited for a violation of the customs revenue laws, it was competent for the United States to give in evidence the declarations of S., not the claimant, who was entrusted by the latter with the custody of the diamonds for sale, such declarations having been made to a customs officer who took the diamonds from a person with whom S. had deposited them, and in the course of an investigation by the officer to determine whether he should seize them, and having been part of the res gestae.

It was also competent for the officer to testify that he did not seize the diamonds till after the declarations were made.

The jury having found, in compliance with § 16 of the Act of June 22, 1874, c. 391, 18 Stat. 189, that the acts complained of in the information were done with intent to defraud the United States, and no motion to dismiss the cause for any defect in the information and no motion in arrest of judgment having been made, any such defect which could have been availed of by demurrer, or exception, or motion to dismiss at the trial, made on the ground of such defect or motion in arrest of judgment must be regarded as having been waived or as having been cured by the verdict.

An information under the revenue laws for the forfeiture of goods which seeks no judgment of fine or imprisonment against any person is a civil action. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 125 U. S. 225

Yet it is so far in the nature of a criminal proceeding that a general verdict on several counts in the information is upheld if one count is good.

Where the sections of the Revised Statutes on which the counts of the information are founded do not prescribe any intent to defraud as an element of the forfeitures they denounce, said § 16 does not make it necessary, in an information filed since its enactment, to aver that the alleged acts were done with an actual intention to defraud the United States.

It is not necessary that the judgment should recite the finding by the jury that the acts complained of in the information were done with intent to defraud the United States.

In rem for the forfeiture of diamonds seized for a violation of customs revenue laws. Decree of condemnation in the district court, which was affirmed by the circuit court. Claimant sued out this writ of error.

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