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letters, threatening to accuse any person of a crime punishable with death, transportation, pillory, or other infamous punishment, with a view to extort from him any money or other valuable chattels. This is punishable by statute 30 Geo. II. c. 24, at the discretion of the court, with fine, imprisonment, pillory, whipping, or transportation for seven years (33).
Geo. III. c. 106, any two justices of the peace have cognizance of offences of this kind, and may upon conviction punish the offenders by imprisonment in the county gaol for three months, or by imprisonment and hard labour in the House of Correction for two months. Though it is legal for one journeyman or servant to refuse to work, unless he is paid the wages he demands, yet a combination of two or more to raise their wages becomes criminal. So a combination of two or more masters to lower the wages of their servants would be equally criminal. One person alone cannot be guilty of a conspiracy; but one person may be prosecuted for having conspired with others, and may be tried and convicted alone; 1 Str. 193. In a prosecution for a conspiracy, the actual fact of conspiring need not be proved, but it may be inferred from circumstances and the concurring conduct of the defendants; I Bl. Rep. 392. In the case of William Stone, who was indicted for high treason, viz. for compassing the death of the king, and for adhering to his enemies, the overt act to which the evidence chiefly applied was the conspiring with John Stone, William Jackson, and others unknown, to collect intelligence, and to communicate it to
the enemy for their aid and instruction. And the attorney-general advanced this position, which was admitted by the court; "that, as the overt act charged was a conspiracy, of which proof was already before the court, the act of each conspirator in the prosecution of such conspiracy was evidence against all; that it had been so determined by Mr. J. Buller, in the case of the King v. Bowes and others, who were convicted for a conspiracy to carry away Lady Strathmore; and that the same principle had been also settled in the King v. Hardy, and the King v. Tooke, at the Old Bailey, in 1794." A conspiracy has been said to be comprehended under the denomination of crimen falsi, and a person convicted of it is held to be rendered an incompetent witness; Leach, 349. But this is only true of conspiracies, the object of which is to injure by fraud, falsehood, or perjury; for Mr. Bowes and the others convicted with him were afterwards held to be competent witnesses by the court of delegates.-C.
(33) The statute now in force upon this subject is the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, by sect. 8 of which, persons sending letters containing menacing demands, or threatening to accuse a party of any crime, punishable with death, transportation, or pillory, or of any other infamous crime, to extort money, shall be guilty of felony, and, on conviction thereof, be liable, at the discretion of the court, to transportation for life, or not less than seven years, or imprison
See Rex v. Ridgway, 1 D. & R. 132; 5 B. & A. 527, upon this subject.
law and by
16. The next offence against public justice is when the 16. perjury and suit is past its commencement, and come to trial. And that thereof, which is the crime of wilful and corrupt perjury; which is defined both at common by Sir Edward Coke (f), to be a crime committed when a statute; lawful oath is administered, in some judicial proceeding, to a person who swears wilfully, absolutely, and falsely, in a matter material to the issue or point in question. The law takes no notice of any perjury but such as is committed in some court of justice, having power to administer an oath; or before some magistrate or proper officer, invested with a similar authority, in some proceedings relative to a civil suit or a criminal prosecution: for it esteems all other oaths unnecessary at least, and therefore will not punish the breach of them (34). For which reason it is much to be questioned, how far any magistrate is justifiable in taking a voluntary affidavit in any extra-judicial matter, as is now too frequent upon every petty occasion (35); since it is more than possible, that by such idle oaths a man may frequently in foro conscientiæ incur the guilt, and at the same time evade the temporal penalties, of perjury. The perjury must also be corrupt, (that is, committed malo animo,) wilful, positive, and absolute; not upon surprize, or the like; it also must be in some point material to the question in dispute (36); for if it
(f) 3 Inst. 164.
ment for any term not exceeding four years; and, if males, to one, two, or three public whippings, in addition to such imprisonment Sect. 9 defines what shall be deemed an infamous crime.
Sending a letter threatening to accuse the prosecutor of having made overtures to the prisoner to commit sodomy with him, does not threaten to charge such an infamous crime as to be within the Act; Rex v. Hickman, R. & M. C. C. 34. But see Rex v. Wagstaffe, R. & R. C. C. 398; Rex v. Paddle, Id. 484.
(34) Where an oath is required by an act of parliament, but not in a judicial proceeding, the breach of that oath does not seem to amount to perjury, unless the statute enacts that such VOL. IV.
oath, when false, shall be perjury, or
It is remarkable that the house of
(35) The evil here so justly complained of is now remedied by statute 5 & 6 W. IV. c. 62, to which the reader is referred.
(36) Vide Lord Mansfield's decision
only be in some trifling collateral circumstance, to which no regard is paid, it is no more penal than in the voluntary extrajudicial oaths before mentioned (37). Subornation of perjury [*138] is the offence of procuring another to *take such a false oath as constitutes perjury in the principal (38). The punishment of perjury and subornation, at common law, has been various. It was anciently death; afterwards banishment, or cutting out the tongue; then forfeiture of goods; and now it is fine and imprisonment, and never more to be capable of bearing testimony (g). But the statute 5 Eliz. c. 9, if the offender be prosecuted thereon, inflicts the penalty of perpetual infamy, and a fine of 40%. on the suborner: and, in default of payment, imprisonment for six months, and to stand with both ears nailed to the pillory. Perjury itself is thereby punished with six months' imprisonment, perpetual infamy, and a fine of 201., or to have both ears nailed to the pillory. But the prosecution is usually carried on for the offence at common law; especially as, to the penalties before inflicted, the statute 2 Geo. II. c. 25, superadds a power, for the court to order the offender to be sent to the house of correction for a term not exceeding seven years, or to be transported for the same period; and makes it felony without benefit of clergy to return or escape within the time (39). It has sometimes been wished, that perjury, at least upon capital accusations, whereby another's life has been or might have been destroyed, was also rendered capital, upon a principle of retaliation as it is in all cases by the laws of France (h). And certainly the odiousness of the crime pleads strongly in behalf of the French law. But it is to be considered, that (g) 3 Inst. 163.
(h) Montesq. Sp. L. b. 29, c. 11.
in Rex v. Aylett, 1 T. R. 69. But it
(37) A man may be indicted for perjury in swearing that he believes a fact to be true, which he must know to be false; Leach, 270.
(38) If the party suborned doth not take such an oath, the person who incited him to commit perjury, is liable to be fined, and to suffer infamous corporal punishment; 2 Hawk, c. 69, § 3.
(39) This statute, as relates to this offence, is repealed by 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 27.
there they admit witnesses to be heard only on the side of the prosecution, and use the rack to extort a confession from the accused. In such a constitution therefore it is necessary to throw the dread of capital punishment into the other scale, in order to keep in awe the witnesses for the crown; on whom alone the prisoner's fate depends; so naturally does one cruel law beget another. But corporal and pecuniary punishments, exile, and perpetual infamy, are more suited to the genius of the English law: where the fact is openly discussed between witnesses on both sides, and the evidence for the crown may be contradicted and disproved by those of the prisoner. Where *indeed the death of an innocent person  has actually been the consequence of such wilful perjury, it falls within the guilt of deliberate murder, and deserves an equal punishment: which our ancient law in fact inflicted (i). But the mere attempt to destroy life by other means not being capital, there is no reason that an attempt by perjury should; much less that this crime should in all judicial cases be punished with death. For to multiply capital punishments lessens their effect, when applied to crimes of the deepest dye; and, detestable as perjury is, it is not by any means to be compared with some other offences, for which only death can be inflicted; and therefore it seems already, except perhaps in the instance of deliberate murder by perjury, very properly punished by our present law, which has adopted the opinion of Cicero (k), derived from the law of the twelve tables, "perjurii pœna divina, exitium; humana, dedecus (40) (41) (42)."
(i) Britton, c. 5.
(40) The Divine sentence upon perjury is death, the human punishment for it is disgrace.
(41) The 23 Geo. II. c. 11, empowers any judge of assize, while the court is sitting, or within twenty-four hours after, to order any witness to be indicted for perjury, and to assign counsel to the prosecutor free of expence; such prosecution to be conducted without any fees or duties whatsoever. The same Act provides, that în any prosecution for perjury, it shall suffice to set forth in the indictment
(k) De Leg. 2, 9.
the substance of the offence, and the
(42) See the note on perjury gene-
which is the of
17. Bribery is the next species of offence against public fering, or taking justice; which is when a judge, or other person concerned in
vent the due
the administration of justice, takes any undue reward to influence his behaviour in his office (7). In the east it is the custom never to petition any superior for justice, not excepting their kings, without a present. This is calculated for the genius of despotic countries; where the true principles of government are never understood, and it is imagined that there is no obligation from the superior to the inferior, no retative duty owing from the governor to the governed. The Roman law, though it contained many severe injunctions against bribery, as well for selling a man's vote in the senate or other public assembly, as for the bartering of common justice, yet, by a strange indulgence in one instance, it tacitly encouraged this practice; allowing the magistrate to receive small presents, provided they did not in the whole exceed a hundred crowns in the year (m): not considering the insinuating nature and gigantic progress of this vice, when once admitted. Plato therefore more wisely, in his ideal republic (n), orders those who take presents for doing their duty, to be punished in the severest manner: and by the laws of Athens he that offered, was also prosecuted as well as he that received, a bribe (o). In England this offence of taking bribes is punished, in inferior officers, with fine and imprisonment; and in those who offer a bribe, though not taken, the same (p). But in judges, especially the superior ones, it hath been always looked upon as so heinous an offence, that the chief justice Thorpe was hanged for it in the reign of Edward III. By a statute (q) 11 Hen IV. all judges and. officers of the king, convicted of bribery, shall forfeit treble the bribe, be punished at the king's will, and be discharged from the king's service for ever. And some notable examples have been made in parliament, of persons in the highest stations, and otherwise very eminent and able, but contaminated with this sordid vice (43).
(1) I Hawk. P. C. 168.
(m) Ff. 48, 11, 6.
(n) De Leg. 1. 12.
(0) Port. Antiq. b. 1, c. 23.
(9) 3 Inst. 146.
(43) It was held to be a misdemeanor to offer a sum of money to the first
lord of the treasury, for the purpose of obtaining an office or appointment un