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IV. Obtaining property by false personation (6). Frauds of this description were indictable, at common law, as misdemeanors, and made punishable by fine and imprisonment (c); but they are now also made penal by the express provision of acts of parliament. By these statutes, to personate any soldier, in order fraudulently to receive his pay, pension, prize money, or wages, is felony; and punishable with imprisonment to the extent of two years (with or without hard labour), or by penal servitude for life or not less than five years (d). Again, to personate (with a fraudulent intention) any seaman or marine (e); or falsely and deceitfully to personate any owner of any share or interest in stock of the Bank of England or Ireland, or of any corporation or society established by charter or act of parliament; or any owner of any dividend payable in respect thereof :-and thereby to endeavour to transfer the share or receive money due to the true owner, are, all of them, felonies, and make the offender liable to the punishments above specified (f).
V. Obtaining property by false pretences. This offence, which, like the last, is closely allied to larceny, though distinguishable from it as being perpetrated through the medium of a mere fraud, -was likewise a misdemeanor, at common law, punishable by fine and imprisonment. And now, by statute, whosoever shall, by any false pretence, obtain from another any chattel, money or valuable security (9), with intent to cheat or defraud any person
(6) By 22 & 23 Vict. c. 17, and & 21 Vict. c. 3; 27 & 28 Vict. c. 47. 30 & 31 Vict. c. 35, if an indict- (e) See 11 Geo. 4 & 1 Will. 4, ment alleging this offence shall be c. 20, s. 84; 9 & 10 Vict. c. 24, s. 1; presented to, or found by, a grand 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 & 21 Vict. jury, security for the due prosecu- c. 8. tion of the charge must, in some (f) 24 & 25 Vict. c. 98, s. 3. See cases, be given.
also 30 & 31 Vict. c. 131, s. 35, as (c) 2 East, P. C. c. xx. s. 5. to personation in respect of shares
(d) See 7 Geo. 4, c. 16, s. 38; 2 or share warrants or coupons. Will. 4, c. 53, s. 49; 9 & 10 Vict. (9) As to a false pretence, see c. 24, s. 1; 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 R. v. Crossley, 2 M. & Rob. 17;
of the same,-shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be liable to penal servitude for five years (h); or he may be punished by imprisonment not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour and solitary confinement (i). There is also a provision, that if, upon the trial of any person indicted for such a misdemeanor, it shall be proved that he obtained the property in question in any such manner as to amount in law to larceny, he shall not by reason thereof be entitled to be acquitted of such misdemeanor (k); and further, that the same penalties shall attach to whomsoever shall, with intent to defraud or injure any person, by any false pretence fraudulently cause or induce another to execute, make, accept, endorse or destroy the whole or any part of any valuable security; or to write or affix his name, or that of any
person or persons, or the seal of any corporation or society, upon any paper or parchment, in order that the same may be made or converted into a valuable security (1).
VI. Fraudulent concealment of deeds, or falsification of pedigree. By 22 & 23 Vict. c. 35, s. 24 (amended by 23 & 24 Vict. c. 38, s. 8), any seller or mortgagor of land,
& . or of chattels real or personal, or choses in action conveyed or assigned to a purchaser or mortgagee—or the solicitor or agent of such seller or mortgagor,—who (with intent to defraud) shall cancel any settlement, deed, will,
R. 0. Ady, 7 Car. & P. 140; R. v. livered to some person other than, Asterley, ibid. 191; R. v. Williams, but for the benefit of, the person ibid. 354; R. v. Barnard, ibid. 784; making the false pretence. (24 & R. v. Masterton, 2 Cox's Cr. C. 100; 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 89.) Reg. o. Sherwood, 26 L. J. (M. C.) (h) See 27 & 28 Vict. c. 47. 81; The Queen v. Goss, 29 L. J. (i) 24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 88. (M. C.) 86; The Queen v. Francis (k) 36 Geo.3, c.7. See The Queen Naylor, Law Rep., 1 C. C. 4. As v. Robinson, 28 L. J. (M. C.) 58. to the term valuable security, see (1) 24 & 25 Vict. c. 96, s. 90. Reg. v. Greenhalgh, 1 Dearsley's C. This provision is framed upon 21 & C. R. 267; R. v. Danger, 5 W. R. 22 Vict. c. 47, repealed by 24 & 25 (C. C. R.) 738. The provision ap- Vict. c. 95. plies, though the money, &c. be dc
or other instrument material to the title, or conceal any incumbrance from the purchaser or mortgagee, or falsify any pedigree upon which the title depends, in order to induce him to accept the title,- shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable with fine or with imprisonment not exceeding two years, (with or without hard labour,) or by both. But no prosecution shall be commenced without the sanction of the attorney-general, (or, if that office be vacant, solicitor-general,) nor without previous notice to the person
intended to be prosecuted.
OF OFFENCES AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT.
The order of our distribution will next lead us to take into consideration, such crimes and misdemeanors as affect men, not in their capacity of individuals, or in respect of their persons or property, but in their capacity of members of the commonwealth ; in respect, in short, of those rights which are common to all the subjects of the realm. These may be divided into the following species: viz., offences against the sovereign or civil government; against religion; against the law of nations; against justice; against the peace; against trade; and against the public health, police or economy.
Under the first of these heads we shall advert, in the first place, to the crime of treason.
I. [Treason, proditio, in its very name, imports a betraying, treachery, or breach of faith; and the crime of which we here speak, is treachery against the sovereign or liege lord (a): and as it is the highest crime which,
[considered as a member of the community, any man can possibly commit, it ought therefore to be the most precisely ascertained. For if the crime of treason be indeterminate, this alone, (says the president Montesquieu,) is sufficient to make any government degenerate into arbitrary power (c). And yet, by the antient common law, there was a great latitude left in the breast of the judges to determine what was treason or not so, whereby the creatures of tyrannical princes had opportunity to create abundance of constructive treasons: that is, to raise, by forced and arbitrary constructions, offences into the crime and punishment of treason which never were suspected to be such. Thus in the twenty-first year of Edward the third it was held to be treason, by accroaching or attempting to exercise royal power (a very uncertain charge), in a knight of Hertfordshire, who forcibly assaulted and detained one of the king's subjects till he paid him 901.; a crime, it must be owned, well deserving of punishment, but which seems to be of a complexion very different from that of treason (d). Killing the king's father or brother, or even his messenger, has also fallen under the same denomination (e): the latter of which is almost as tyrannical a doctrine as that of the imperial constitution of Arcadius and Honorius; which determined that any attempts or designs against the ministers of the prince should be treason($).
“ lic against his liege lord and sove“ reign. And therefore for a wife “ to kill her lord or husband, a “ servant bis lord or master, and an “ ecclesiastic his lord or ordinary; “ these, being breaches of the lower
allegiance of private and domestic faith, are denominated petit trea
But when disloyalty 80 “ rears its crest as to attack even
majesty itself, it is called, by way “ of eminent distinction, high trea
son, being equivalent to the crimen læsa majestatis of the Ro
mans.” 4 BI. Com. 75. Since the time of Blackstone, however, the offence of petit treason has been abolished (9 Geo. 4, c. 31, s. 2); and it has been thought therefore inconvenient to retain, in these Commentaries, the correlative term of high treason.
(c) Sp. L. b. xii. c. 7.
(f) Cod. 9, 8, 5.