KRING V. MISSOURI, 107 U. S. 221 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kring v. Missouri, 107 U.S. 221 (1883)

Kring v. Missouri

Decided April 2, 1883

107 U.S. 221


1. A. was convicted of murder in the first degree, and the judgment of condemnation was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Missouri. A previous sentence pronounced on his plea of guilty of murder in the second degree, and subjecting him to an imprisonment for twenty-five years, had, on his appeal, been reversed and set aside. By the law of Missouri in force when the homicide was committed, this sentence was an acquittal of the crime of murder in the first degree, but before his plea of guilty was entered the law was changed, so that by force of its provisions, if a judgment on that plea be lawfully act aside, it shall not be held to be an acquittal of the higher crime. Held that as to this case, the new law was an ex post facto law within the meaning of Section 10, Article I, of the Constitution of the United States, and that he could not be again tried for murder in the first degree.

2. The history of the ex post facto clause of the Constitution reviewed in connection with its adoption as a part of the Constitution and with its subsequent construction by the federal and the state courts.

3. The distinction between retrospective laws, which relate to the remedy or the mode of procedure, and those which operate directly on the offense, is unsound where, in the latter case, they injuriously affect any substantial right to which the accused was entitled under the law as it existed when the alleged offense was committed.

4. Within the meaning of the Constitution, any law is ex post facto which is enacted after the offense was committed and which, in relation to it or its consequences, alters the situation of the accused to his disadvantage.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.