UNITED STATES V. MILLER, 471 U. S. 130 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Miller, 471 U.S. 130 (1985)

United States v. Miller

No. 83-1750

Argued January 16, 1985

Decided April 1, 1985

471 U.S. 130


A federal grand jury returned a multicount indictment charging respondent with mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. He was alleged to have defrauded his insurer in connection with a burglary at his place of business both by consenting to the burglary in advance and by lying to the insurer about the value of his loss. The proof at his jury trial, however, concerned only the latter allegation, and he was convicted. Respondent appealed on the basis that the trial proof had fatally varied from the scheme alleged in the indictment. The Court of Appeals agreed and vacated the conviction, holding that, under the Fifth Amendment's grand jury guarantee, a conviction could not stand where the trial proof corresponded to a fraudulent scheme much narrower than, though included in, the scheme that the indictment alleged.

Held: Respondent's Fifth Amendment grand jury right was not violated. Pp. 471 U. S. 135-145.

(a) As long as the crime and the elements thereof that sustain the conviction are fully and clearly set out in the indictment, the right to a grand jury is not normally violated by the fact that the indictment alleges more crimes or other means of committing the same crime. Convictions generally have been sustained as long as the proof upon which they are based corresponds to an offense that was clearly set out in the indictment. A part of the indictment unnecessary to and independent of the allegations of the offense proved may normally be treated as a useless averment that may be ignored. Pp. 471 U. S. 135-138.

(b) Respondent has shown no deprivation of his substantial right to be tried only on charges presented in a grand jury indictment. He was tried on an indictment that clearly set out the offense for which he was ultimately convicted. Stirone v. United States, 361 U. S. 212, distinguished. Pp. 471 U. S. 138-140.

(c) The proposition that a narrowing of an indictment constitutes an "amendment" that renders the indictment void, Ex parte Bain, 121 U. S. 1, is now explicitly rejected. Pp. 471 U. S. 140-145.

(d) The variance complained of here added nothing new to the indictment and constituted no broadening, and what was removed from the case was in no way essential to the offense on which respondent was convicted. P. 471 U. S. 145.

715 F.2d 1360 and 728 F.2d 1269, reversed.

Page 471 U. S. 131

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all other Members joined, except POWELL, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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