PRINCE V. UNITED STATES, 352 U. S. 322 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Prince v. United States, 352 U.S. 322 (1957)

Prince v. United States

No. 132

Argued December 11, 1956

Decided February 25, 1957

352 U.S. 322


Petitioner was convicted under the Federal Bank Robbery Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2113, on a two-count indictment charging (1) robbery of a federally insured bank, and (2) entering the bank with intent to commit a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for the robbery and 15 years for the entering, the two sentences to run consecutively.

Held: the sentence was illegal, and he must be resentenced on the conviction on the robbery count only. Pp. 352 U. S. 323-329.

(a) This interpretation of the language of the Act is uncontradicted by anything in the legislative history. Pp. 352 U. S. 325-328.

(b) The obvious purpose of the 1937 amendment was to establish offenses less serious than robbery; there is no indication that Congress intended thereby to pyramid the authorized penalties. Pp. 352 U. S. 327-328.

(c) The gravamen of the unlawful entry offense is the intent to commit a felony, and, when a robbery is consummated following an entry, this intent is merged into the robbery and there is only one crime. P. 352 U. S. 328.

(d) When Congress made either robbery or an entry for that purpose a crime, it intended that the maximum prison term for robbery should remain at 20 years (or 25 years if aggravated by assault with a deadly weapon), but that, even if the culprit should fall short of accomplishing his purpose, he could be imprisoned similarly for entering with the felonious intent. P. 352 U. S. 329.

(e) This conclusion is consistent with the policy of not attributing to Congress an intention to punish more severely than the language of its laws clearly imports in the light of pertinent legislative history. P. 352 U. S. 329.

230 F.2d 568, reversed and remanded.

Page 352 U. S. 323

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