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United States v. William

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
491 Fed. Appx. 821 (2012)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Daniel William (defendant) for violating 18 U.S.C. § 1708 by stealing mail and having it unlawfully in his possession. At trial, William admitted taking a letter shortly after the sender dropped it in a mailbox for pickup and delivery. William testified that he planned to return the letter to the mailbox before the scheduled pickup time. The judge instructed the jury that the government had to prove that William intended to deprive the owner of the letter's benefit, either temporarily or permanently. Over William's objection, the judge further instructed the jury that they could infer that William stole the letter if they found that the letter was properly addressed, recently mailed, never received by the addressee, and found in William's possession. The jury found William guilty, and on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, William argued that the judge's instruction was reversible error. The government responded that the judge's instruction did not go to intent, but only to the identity of the person who took the letter.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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