Law School Case Brief
Lambert v. California - 355 U.S. 225, 78 S. Ct. 240 (1957)
Actual knowledge of the duty to register or proof of the probability of such knowledge and subsequent failure to comply are necessary before a conviction under Los Angeles, Cal., Municipal Code § 52.39 can stand.
A Los Angeles municipal ordinance made it an offense for a person who has been convicted of a crime punishable in California as a felony to remain in the City for more than five days without registering with the Chief of Police. Though convicted of forgery, a crime punishable as a felony, defendant had not, at the time of her arrest on suspicion of another offense, registered under this municipal ordinance. The trial court convicted defendant of violating the registration law. The appellate court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to defendant's claim that the ordinance was unconstitutional. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Was the ordinance unconstitutional for violating due process?
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the ordinance violated the due process requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment when it was applied to a person who had no actual knowledge of her duty to register and where no showing was made of the probability of such knowledge.
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