Oh, the good ole days. 1800s case law.

12 Oct

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Came across this gem today while researching something totally unrelated. As someone who REGULARLY has typos in her work, I almost feel bad for the DA (but not really): conviction reversed because the DA wrote “larcey” instead of “larceny” in the charging document. The California Supreme Court aptly noted: “there is no such felony as “larcey” know to our law.” Because it is short, and amusing, here is the opinion in full. Bonus points if you ever raise this issue on appeal.

People v. St. Claire (1880) 56 Cal. 406

By the COURT:

The indictment charges an entry into a stable with intent to commit “larcey.” Burglary is the entering of a house, etc., “with intent to commit grand or petit larceny, or any felony.” (Pen. Code, § 459.) There is no such felony as “larcey” known to our law. “Larcey” is certainly not “larceny,” nor does the maxim, idem sonans, apply.
It is said that the Court must give judgment without regard to the technical errors or defects, or to exceptions which do not affect the substantial rights of the parties. (Pen. Code, § 1258.) But this is more than a departure from an established form; nor is it a case in which facts are averred in the indictment, which sufficiently indicate the sense in which the word purporting to name the crime is employed; but is a failure to describe any offense.
Judgment reversed, and cause remanded for a new trial.

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