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Criminal Law Keyed to Kennedy
Morissette v. United States
Citation:342 U.S. 246 (1952)
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In Michigan, the government established a practice bombing range in a wooded area. The Air Force dropped simulated bombs at ground targets. At various places about the range signs read “Danger, Keep Out, Bombing Range.” Nevertheless, the range was known as good deer country and was extensively hunted.
The defendant was a fruit stand operator in the summer in the summer and a trucker/scrap iron collector in the winter. One day, he went hunting in the area and came across the spent bomb casings. These casings were thrown into piles. They were not stacked or piled in any order, and some heaps had been accumulating for four years or more. They were exposed to the weather and rusted.
The defendant loaded three tons of them onto his truck and took them to a nearby farm, where they were flattened and them marketed for $84. The loading, crushing, and transporting of the casings were all in broad daylight without the slightest effort of concealment.
An investigation began and the defendant voluntarily and promptly told the whole story to authorities. He stated that he thought the property was abandoned and had no intention of stealing. He was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 641. He appealed, arguing that he had no intent but the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
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