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Colonial Cases

United States v. Price, 1907

[assault - appeals]

United States v. Price

United States Consular Court, Shanghai
Source: San Francisco Call, 6 November 1907



Federal Appeal Court Decides Unloaded Pistol is Not Dangerous.

The very unpopular United States Judge Wilfley of the United States consular court at Shanghai, China, received a setback yesterday in a decision handed down by the United States court of appeal.  The case was that of the appeal of S. R. Price, convicted of an assault with a dangerous weapon and sentenced to six months' imprisonment in the jail of the American consul at Shanghai.  The court of appeals reversed Judge Wilfley's judgment and granted Price a new trial, but for a lighter offence.

It was proved at the trial that price drew a revolver upon a hotel keeper in Shanghai and pointed it threateningly at him.  It was shown that the weapon was unloaded and that this fact was not known to the complainant.

Judge de Haven, who wrote the opinion for the court, said:-

In order to constitute the offense a dangerous weapon must be used in making the assault.  The use of a dangerous weapon is what distinguishes the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon from a simple assault.  A dangerous weapon is one likely to produce death or great bodily harm.  The courts uniformly hold as a matter of law than an unloaded pistol when there is no attempt to use it otherwise than by pointing it in a threatening manner at another is not a dangerous weapon.

The decision advises that the court should have found Price guilty of simple assault only and remands the case for a new trial for the lighter offense.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School