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[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 (o). 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 (p).
XVII. Another misdemeanor of the same species, is the negligence of public officers intrusted with the administration of justice,-as sheriffs, coroners, constables, and the like, which makes the offender liable to be fined: and, in very notorious cases, will amount to a forfeiture of his office, if it be a beneficial one (q).
XVIII. There is yet another offence against public justice, which is a misdemeanor of deep malignity; and so much the deeper, as there are many opportunities of putting it in practice, and the power and wealth of the offenders may often deter the injured from a legal prosecution. This is the oppression and tyrannical partiality, of judges, justices, and other magistrates, in the administration and under the colour of their office. However, when prosecuted, -either by impeachment in parliament, or by information in the Court of Queen's Bench, (according to the rank of the offenders,) it is sure to be severely punished with forfeiture of office either consequential or immediate ; together with fines, imprisonment, or other discretionary censure, regulated by the nature and aggravations of the offence committed (r).
(0) See 3 Inst. 147.
4, c. 94, s. 41. As to bribery of (P) As to the offence of bribery public officers in the East Indies, and corruption at elections, vide see 33 Geo. 3, c. 52, s. 62. sup. vol. II. p. 375. As to bribery of (2) Hawk. P. C. b. 1, c. 66; and custom house officers, see 16 & 17 see R. v. Pinney, 3 B. & Ad. 946; Vict. c. 107, s. 262; of excise of- R. v. Neale, 9 Car. & P. 431. ficers, 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 53, s. 12. (r) Hawk. P. C. b. 1, c. 68; and As to bribery of officers of the sce R. v. Holland, 5 T. R. 607. Court of Chancery, see 3 & 4 Will.
[XIX. Lastly, extortion is an abuse of public justice ; which consists in any officer's unlawfully taking, by colour of his office, from any man, any money or thing of value, that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due. The punishment for this misdemeanor is fine and imprisonment, and sometimes a forfeiture of the office (s).]
OF OFFENCES AGAINST THE PEACE.
We are next to consider offences against the peace (a); in our consideration of which, however, it is to be understood, that those are here passed over which more immediately and properly range themselves under other divisions of the work,—such as offences against the person, and the like. Those at present in question, are of two sorts; amounting either to actual breaches of the peace, or only to acts provocative of a breach of the peace by others. [Actual breaches of the peace are either felonious, or not felonious—the former being strained up to that degree of malignity, by virtue of several modern statutes; and
I. The riotous assembling of twelve persons or more, and not dispersing upon proclamation. This was made treason by statute 3 & 4 Edw. VI. c. 5; when the king was a minor, and a change of religion to be effected. But that statute was repealed by the first Act of Queen Mary, among the other treasons created since the twentyfifth year of Edward the third ; though the prohibition was in substance re-enacted, with an inferior degree of punishment, by statute 1 Mar. st. 2, c. 12; which made the same offence a simple felony. The statutes specified and particularized the nature of the riots they were meant
(a) At a former place we remarked, after Blackstone, that crimes “ almost always include a breach of the public peace" (vide
sup. p. 47), but the crimes spoken of in this chapter, are those which are directed more particularly against
[to suppress; as, for example, such as were set on foot with intention to offer violence to the Privy Council ; or to change the laws of the kingdom; or for certain other specified purposes. In which cases, if the persons were commanded by proclamation to disperse, and they did not, it was by the statute of Mary made felony, but within the benefit of clergy; and also the Act indemnified the peace officers and their assistants, if they killed any of the mob in endeavouring to suppress such riot. This was thought a necessary security in that sanguinary reign when popery was intended to be established, which was like to produce great discontents : but at first it was made only for a year, and was afterwards continued for that queen's life. And by statute 1 Eliz. c. 16, when a reformation in religion was to be once more attempted, it was revived and continued during her life also, and then expired. From the accession of James the first to the death of Queen Anne, it was never once thought expedient to revive it; but in the first year of George the first, it was judged necessary, in order to support the execution of the Act of Settlement, to renew it; and at one stroke to make it perpetual, with large additions. For whereas the former Acts expressly defined and specified what should be accounted a riot, the statute 1 Geo. I. st. 2, c. 5, commonly called “ the Riot Act,” enacts generally, that if any twelve persons are unlawfully assembled to the disturbance of the peace; and any one justice of the peace, , sheriff, under-sheriff or mayor of a town, shall think proper to command them by proclamation to disperse,if they contemn his orders, and continue together for one hour afterwards, such contempt shall be felony :] and the punishment is penal servitude for life, or not less than five years ; or imprisonment, with or without hard labour or solitary confinement, for not more than two years (6). [The Riot Act declares further, that if the reading of
(b) i Geo. 1, st. 2, c. 5; 7 Will. 4 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 & 21 Vict. & 1 Vict. c. 91; 9 & 10 Vict. c. 24; c. 3; 27 & 28 Vict. c. 47.
[the proclamation be by force opposed, or the reader be in any manner wilfully hindered from the reading of it, such opposers and hinderers, and all persons to whom such proclamation ought to have been made, and knowing of such hindrance, and not dispersing, are felons :) and they are liable to the like punishment (c). [The same Act also contains a clause indemnifying the officers and their assistants in case any of the mob bé unfortunately killed in the endeavour to disperse them ;-—such clause being copied from the Act of Queen Mary (d).]
II. Riotously demolishing churches, houses, buildings or machinery. By 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97, if any persons, riotously and tumultuously assembled together to the disturbance of the peace, shall unlawfully and with force demolish, pull down, or destroy (or begin to demolish, pull down, or destroy) any church, chapel, meetinghouse, or other place of divine worship; or any house, stable, or other such buildings, engines, or machinery as in the Act mentioned,—they shall be guilty of felony: and are liable to penal servitude for life, or any term not less than five years; or to be imprisoned, with or without hard labour, for any term not more than two
And by 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 31, ss. 2, 3, if any church, chapel, house, or such buildings or machinery as in that Act mentioned, shall be feloniously demolished, (wholly
(c) 1 Geo. 1, st. 2, c. 5; 7 Will, 4 & 1 Vict. c. 91; 9 & 10 Vict. c. 24; 16 & 17 Vict. c. 99; 20 & 21 Vict. c. 3.
(d) Provisions were also contained in 1 Geo. 1, c. 5, against the riotous destruction of churches and other places of religious worship, making such offences capital felonies; but these enactments were repealed by 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 27; and
the offence of riotous demolishment generally, otherwise provided against by 7 & 8 Geo. 4, c. 30, s. 8. This last provision is repealed by 24 & 25 Vict. c. 95, but re-enacted by that which is given in the text.
(e) 24 & 25 Vict. c. 97, s. 11. (See 27 & 28 Vict. c. 47.) The offenders, if the court think fit, may also be bound over with sureties to keep the peace. (Sect. 73.)