Milanovich v. United States

PETITIONER: Milanovich
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Trailways Bus Terminal

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 551 (1961)
ARGUED: Feb 20, 1961
DECIDED: Mar 20, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Milanovich v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 20, 1961 in Milanovich v. United States

Earl Warren:

Mike Milanovich et al., Petitioners, versus United States.

Mr. Davis.

J. Hubbard Davis:

Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Court.

I am J. Hubbard Davis of Norfolk, Virginia representing the petitioner, Virginia Milanovich.

Mike Milanovich is represented by Mr. Bergan.

We are here today on a writ of certiorari to the United States District -- I mean, Court of the Appeals of the Fourth Circuit.

We are appealing on the grounds that she was erroneously convicted.

Virginia Milanovich was erroneously convicted of both stealing and having possession of the stolen goods and also that the Court erred, in failing to instruct the witnesses not to discuss their testimony, both of which, for prejudicial and harmful error to the petitioners.

Briefly, the facts are that in June 2nd, 1958, Mike and Virginia Milanovich, husband and wife, Mike being a chief in the Navy of some 18 years experience, had met the three accomplices who were called in the lower court, the three thieves.

They had been -- met them sometime earlier in the spring, April or May and they had come to Norfolk with the -- Norfolk, Virginia, with the idea that they would go into business.

Mike lent them their -- his automobile.

It was licensed to travel in and out the military installations because of the proper sticker that was on the windshield.

On June 2nd, 1958, the jury still believed from the evidence presented that Mike and Virginia Milanovich and the company of the three accomplices, entered the United States Naval Amphibious Base, Norfolk, Virginia and burglarized the commissary store.

The jury so believed that Virginia Milanovich was a driver of the car and that Mike was present therein, neither of the two Milanovich has touched any of the stolen property, did not enter the building, did not enter the safes.

The three thieves broke into the building, broke into the safes and some $14,000 in cash, currency and checks were removed.

The burglary took such a lengthy time that according to the evidence that the jury believed, the Milanovichs did not wait in their automobile at the appropriate rendezvous, but returned to their home.

The three thieves, finding their transportation gone, buried their loot in the nearby woods and found a way by devious means to the Milanovich's home, subsequently left for their respective homes in Ohio.

Some two weeks later, on June 18th, Mr. Grammer, one of the three thieves, returned to Norfolk and visited with the Milanovich.

And the jury so believed that at that time, he and the company of Virginia Milanovich went to the Amphibious Base and recovered some of the stolen loot.

On the morning of the 19th, the FBI, on information, raided the home of the Milanovichs and there found Mike and Virginia Milanovich, a female friend by the name of (Inaudible) and one of the thieves, Mr. Grammer.

At that time, with permission of the Milanovichs, their home was searched and approximately $1000 wrapped in bank wrappers of coins, were found in two containers.

One of which was a cosmetic bag of Virginia Milanovich.

She denied knowledge of the money.

She said it was the property of the other woman in her house.

Be that as it may, the jury so believed that this was stolen property of the June 2nd break-in that it was in the possession of Virginia Milanovich.

And under the instruction given to the jury, the jury returned a verdict of guilty as a principal and as a receiver.

The charge to the jury, we say, was erroneous and should not have been given.

We say that the jury should have been so instructed that they could have found Mike and Virginia Milanovich guilty as a principal under the larceny statute or as a receiver of the stolen property, not both.

The charge is given to the jury was, as I quote, "I might say in passing, that if they did participate as aiders and abettors that they may be found guilty as principals, then as to the count as to receiving.”

Now of course, if they had actually removed the contents of the safe themselves, they cannot be guilty of receiving those same contents, but the evidence is clear in this case that either Mike Milanovich or Virginia Milanovich actually had their hands on the safe or removed any money from any safe.