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United States v. Bowman - 260 U.S. 94, 43 S. Ct. 39 (1922)

Rule:

Penal provisions, like all others, are to be fairly construed according to the legislative intent as expressed in the enactment. They are not to be strained either way.

Facts:

Defendant Bowman was indicted under U.S. Crim. Code § 35 that alleged a conspiracy to defraud a corporation, in which the United States was a stockholder, by obtaining payment on a false claim. The district court quashed the indictment for lack of jurisdiction and petitioner United States sought review.

Issue:

Does the court have jurisdiction over acts of fraud that were committed outside of its territorial jurisdiction?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court held that that the class of criminal statutes that were not logically dependent on their locality for the government's jurisdiction, but which were intended to protect the government from fraud wherever perpetrated are not covered by the general rule that applies to crimes against private individuals or property. The court noted that Congress intended to include in the locus of the crime the high seas and foreign countries.

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