Prince v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Kingsley Books, Inc.

LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 352 US 322 (1957)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1956
DECIDED: Feb 25, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Prince v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1956 in Prince v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 132, Ollie Otto Prince versus United States of America.

Mr. Jenkins.

Joseph P. Jenkins:

May it please the Court.

This is a criminal case on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit which had overruled an order entered by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, whether affirmed in which he had overruled an order for a motion filed by the defendant asking the court to placate or correct an illegal sentence.

It involves interpretation of that part of a Bank Robbery Act which I believe because of the contentions of the Government and because of the Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeal relative to the entry with intent provision has placed that particular provision in a rather unique position insofar as the (Inaudible) of our jurisprudence is concerned with criminal matters because this Court is being asked to construe the bank robbery statute.

First, to define the purpose of the 1937 Amendment to the statute, secondly, to determine what is a maximum sentence imposable under subsections (a), (b) and (d) of the statute which are the traditional or classic form of bank robbery, if I may the use the term.

And thirdly, if a person is accused of entering a bank with intent to commit a robbery or felony therein or larceny and counsel makes the act particularly under aggravated circumstances as involved in this case, whether or not the entry with intent act, which is peaceful in this case, merges with the aggravated robbery provision.

The sole contention of the petitioner here is that count two of the indictment here it involved is legal and that no crime was committed thereon.

And if a crime was committed, it was merged in the first count of the indictment.

The statute involved is Title 18, Section 2113, the Federal Bank Robbery Act.

This Act was enacted in 1948 as a reenactment of the original bank robbery statute, Title 12, Section 588 (b) amended in 1937 and repealed at the time the reenactment was held.

Subsection (a) of the Act prohibits two crimes, robbery by force and violence and intimidation and entry of a bank with intent to commit a felony therein affecting such bank and larceny and a 20-year penalty is assessable.

Subsection (b) prohibits grand and petit larceny.

Subsection (d) which is a rather unique statute prohibits any of these acts to be committed by the use of a dangerous weapon or device by assault.

And if so, a penalty of 25 years is assessable.

This is known as the jeopardy or aggravated portion of the statute.

Now, the facts --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Now, 15 years that he had on the second count, does that --

Joseph P. Jenkins:

Yes, sir.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

-- consecutive to the 20 years?

Joseph P. Jenkins:

That's correct.

The facts are simple, Your Honor.

And that I was returned against this petitioner in 1949 charging him with two counts.

Count number one was commission of the act of bank robbery under aggravated circumstances.

Count number two was entry of the bank to commit the robbery.

Trial was held and the evidence show that he had entered the bank at Malone, Texas during daylight hours, during regular business hours through a duly designated entrance without any force or violence as other people had done familiar to customer while where he was invited.

While there, he asked certain directions of a bank officer.

He was given directions.

He then displayed the weapon and consummated the act of bank robbery which is prohibited by subsection (d) of the Act under aggravated circumstances.

He was sentenced after being found guilty for 20 years on entering the bank or the robbery forcing thereof and 15 years on the second count which is the entry with intent, these sentences to run consecutively or for a total of 35 years.