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Bell v. United States
United States Supreme Court
349 U.S. 81 (1955)
The United States (plaintiff) charged Bell (defendant) with violations of the Mann Act, which provides that, whoever knowingly transports in interstate commerce any woman for the purpose of prostitution, or any other immoral purpose, can be subject to a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both. Bell pled guilty. At sentencing, Bell contended that he could not be subject to cumulative punishment under two counts of violation of the law because, though he transported two different women, he did so in the same vehicle and on the same trip, essentially committing only a single offense. The district court rejected Bell’s argument and sentenced Bell to consecutive terms of two and a half years based on each count. Bell moved to correct the sentence. The district court denied the request, and Bell appealed. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that two separate offenses were committed, one involving each woman, despite the fact that transportation was simultaneous. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)
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