UNITED STATES V. KAHAN, 415 U. S. 239 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Kahan, 415 U.S. 239 (1974)

United States v. Kahan

No. 73-428

Decided February 25, 1974

415 U.S. 239


At respondent's arraignment for improperly receiving gratuities for official acts and for perjury before the grand jury, counsel was appointed to represent him at his request and after he stated he was without funds; he failed, in response to a question as to whether he had funds to employ an attorney, to disclose that he had access to certain savings accounts in which he had deposited $27,000. On trial, his statements as to lack of funds were admitted as false exculpatory statements evincing his consciousness that the bank deposits were incriminating, and as evidence of willfulness in making statements before the grand jury with knowledge of their falsity. The Court of Appeals, in reliance on Simmons v. United States, 390 U. S. 377, reversed, holding that the admission of the false statements violated respondent's Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Held: The incriminating component of respondent's pretrial statements derives, not from their content, but from his knowledge of their falsity, the truth of the matter being that he knew he was not indigent and did not have a right to the appointment of counsel. Nor is there involved what was "believed" by the claimant to be a "valid" constitutional claim, hence respondent was not faced with the "intolerable" choice of having to surrender one constitutional right in order to assert another. Simmons v. United States, supra, distinguished.

Certiorari granted; 479 F.2d 290, reversed and remanded.

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