May 14, 2020

Morissette v. United States | Case Brief - 342 U.S. 246 (1952) US Supreme Court

FACTS: Morissette was a junk dealer who entered a military bombing range and removed old shell casings for sale as scrap metal. He was indicted on "knowingly converting" government property. 

HISTORY: Trial court convicted. Court of Appeals affirmed. Supreme Court reversed. 

ISSUE: Is intent required for him to be convicted of taking the property? 

HOLDING: Yes 

RATIONALE: This case differs from Balint and Behrman case in that it is not based on legislation that is designed to protect citizens from a consequence of the industrial revolution. The enactment before the court omitted any provisions for intent. 

DISPOSITION: Reversed. 

DICTA: "we hold that the mere omission from %641 of any mention of intent will not be construed as eliminating that element from the crimes denounced."