Law School Case Brief
United States v. Woodward - 469 U.S. 105, 105 S. Ct. 611 (1985)
Proof of a currency reporting violation does not necessarily include proof of a false statement offense. 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001 proscribes the nondisclosure of a material fact only if the fact is concealed by any trick, scheme, or device. A person could, without employing a trick, scheme, or device, simply and willfully fail to file a currency disclosure report. A traveler who enters the country and passes through Customs prepared to answer questions truthfully, but is never asked whether he is carrying over $ 5,000 in currency, might nonetheless be subject to conviction under 31 U.S.C.S. § 1058 for willfully transporting money without filing the required currency report. However, because he did not conceal a material fact by means of a trick, scheme, or device, (and did not make any false statement) his conduct would not fall within 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001.
In passing through Customs at Los Angeles International Airport, respondent checked the "no" box of the usual form with respect to the question whether he or any family member was carrying over $5,000. However, after being questioned by customs officials and informed that he would be subjected to a search, he admitted that he and his wife were carrying over $20,000 cash, which they then produced. Respondent was subsequently convicted and sentenced to consecutive sentences in Federal District Court under two counts in an indictment charging him with the felony of making a false statement to a United States agency in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 1001, and with the misdemeanor of willfully failing to report that he was carrying more than $5,000 into the United States, in violation of 31 U.S.C.S. §§ 1058, 1101 (1976 ed.). Both counts were based on the same conduct -- answering "no" to the customs form question. However, the felony false statement conviction was reversed by the Court of Appeals, which held that Congress intended someone in respondent's position to be punished only for the currency reporting misdemeanor. The court applied the rule of Blockburger v. United States for determining whether Congress intended to permit cumulative punishment -- that is, whether each statutory provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not -- and concluded that every currency reporting offense necessarily entails a violation of the false statement law. The United States Supreme Court granted the Government's petition for certiorari review.
Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the false statement felony was a lesser-included offense of the currency reporting misdemeanor?
The United States Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeals misapplied the Blockburger rule. Proof of a currency reporting violation does not necessarily include proof of a false statement offense, since § 1001 proscribes the nondisclosure of a material fact only if the fact is concealed "by any trick, scheme, or device," and a person could, without employing a "trick, scheme, or device," simply and willfully fail to file a currency disclosure report. There is no evidence that Congress did not intend to allow separate punishment for the two different offenses here. Moreover, Congress' intent to allow punishment for both offenses is shown by the fact that the statutes are directed to separate evils.
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