U.S. Supreme Court
Hepner v. United States, 213 U.S. 103 (1909)
Hepner v. United States
Argued March 2, 1909
Decided April 5, 1909
213 U.S. 103
A penalty may be recovered by a civil action, although such an action may be so far criminal in its nature that the defendant cannot be compelled to testify against himself therein in respect to any matter involving his being guilty of a criminal offense.
A suit brought by the United States to recover the penalty prescribed by §§ 4 and 5 of the Alien Immigration Act of March 3, 1903, c. 1012, 32 Stat. 1213, is a civil suit and not a criminal prosecution, and when it appears by undisputed testimony that a defendant has committed an offense against those sections, the trial judge may direct a verdict in favor of the government.
The facts, which involve the right of a trial judge to direct a verdict in favor of the government in an action for penalty chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
for violation of the Alien Immigration Law, are stated in the opinion.