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The object of the present work is to present, in a practical treatise, a connected view, not only of the main features of the criminal law as known in this State, but also of the method of the criminal procedure before the different officers and courts exercising criminal jurisdiction in the State.
The author, during his professional practice, and more especially while holding the office of district-attorney in one of the counties of this State, has often felt the necessity of a compact, reliable hand-book upon the criminal practice. The work of Mr. BARBOUR, which was most in use, was more expressly designed for the guide of justices of the peace, and instruction in such criminal proceedings as were carried on before them and in their courts, and was not expected to be complete in its details of the practice in courts of record upon the trial of indictments. Mr. ARCHBOLD's “Criminal Practice and Pleading” was originally written and designed to illustrate the practice in the courts of England, and, by reason of various statutory enactments in this State differing from the practice of the common law and the statutes of England, it did not meet the wants of the profession. Again, the works of Mr. WHARTON upon the criminal law, and the notes by Mr. WATERMAN subjoined to the text of ARCHBOLD, although the result of extended labor and great patience and care in their preparation, were too cumbersome for general use, and embraced a variety of statutory enactments by the Legislatures of other States, which had no application to the practice in this State, besides containing many decisions made by the courts of other States, which either interpreted such special enactments, or were repugnant to the decisions which had been made by our courts upon various questions arising upon the criminal practice in this State.
In the arrangement of that portion of this work embraced in Book I, treating of the procedure in criminal prosecutions, the author has endeavored not only to ensure accuracy and brevity, but also to arrange the order of the subjects as they would be most likely to occur in an actual case of practice. Such matters as are most frequently determined without the aid of a court of record, and over which the inferior judicial officers and tribunals exercise jurisdiction, are mentioned first, and these are followed in consecutive order by the proceedings had and taken from the arrest of an offender for the most trivial misdemeanor down to the infliction of the death penalty for a capital crime; and the attempt has been made to so arrange the subjects spoken of that a person having occasion to refer to the book will, upon an examination of the particular question under consideration, find upon the pages immediately following a discussion of the topics, concerning the next step to be taken by either party to the action in its actual progress. Convenience of arrangement has throughout been carefully looked after; for brevity and accuracy are often useless in a hand-book designed to be used upon the necessity of the moment if the matters spoken of are so disarranged that they cannot be readily found.
The arrangement of Book I is devoted entirely to a discussion of the criminal procedure. In the first chapter, the persons capable of committing crimes, and the various grounds of exemption from punishment, are considered. Chapter two embraces the degrees of guilt; those who are principals and accessories, and persons attempting to commit offences. Chapter three enumerates the powers and duties of the several judicial officers and courts possessing criminal jurisdiction in the State. Chapter four consists of a discussion of the law relative to arrests upon criminal charges—by whom, for what offences, when, where, and in what mannerby public officers and private individuals, with and without process; containing, also, a section relative to the arrest of fugitives from justice by requisitions upon the governors of other States. Chapter five embraces the questions of sureties of the peace and of good behavior, including the subsequent proceedings in courts of sessions upon the recognizance. In the sixth chapter, the practice upon the different kinds of search warrants is treated of. In chapter seven is considered the law and practice upon coroners' inquests, including investigations by coroners into the origin of fires. Chapter eight is devoted to a discussion of the practice in bastardy proceedings, and appeals to the court of sessions from orders of filiation made in bastardy cases. Chapter nine contains a discussion of the practice in summary convictions, without the intervention of a jury. In chapter ten, the arrest and examination of offenders, their commitment for trial, and letting them to bail, and trials in courts of special sessions, are very fully considered. The subjects discussed in this chapter are divided into three general subdivisions, and include, first, the proceedings from the complaint until the return of the warrant of arrest; second, the proceedings subsequent to the return of the warrant, where the offence is not triable in a court of special sessions; and, third, the proceedings subsequent to the return of the warrant, where the offence is triable before a court of special sessions. Chapter eleven embraces the question of the removal, by certiorari, of the proceedings and judgment, upon conviction in the courts of special sessions and police courts, into the courts of sessions. In the twelfth chapter, the practice and proceedings in courts of oyer and terminer and courts of sessions upon the finding, presentment and trial of indictments are very fully considered. A comprehensive view of the entire practice in a court of record, from the organization of the court down to its final adjournment, is given in all the various details that can arise upon a prosecution for a felony or misdemeanor. This chapter embraces five general subdivisions, viz.: Section one, treating of the proceedings from the organization of the court down to the finding and presentment of the indictment; section two of the proceedings from the presentment of the indictment down to the trial; section three, of the proceedings from and including the trial down to and including the verdict; section four, of the sentence and punishment; and section five, of the subsequent mis-, cellaneous proceedings. Chapter thirteen relates to the various methods of obtaining a review of a criminal conviction by writs of error and certiorari; the making of bills of exception; staying the sentence, and motions for a new trial, and embraces a full discussion of the law and practice upon these subjects.
In Book II, the first and second chapters respectively consider the law as applicable to the different felonies and misdemeanors. These chapters contain an alphabetical list of the various felonies and misdemeanors, with a particular reference to the statutes and laws creating them; and, in the subsequent discussion of indictable offences, the felonies and misdemeanors, for convenience, are also arranged alphabetically. The third chapter of the second book relates to the form and contents of the indictment, and the legal rules of criminal pleading as applied to an indictment. The fourth chapter consists of a discussion of the principles of evidence as applied to the administration of the criminal law, and is entitled “Of Criminal Evidence.”
It has been a task of no small magnitude to explore the mass of criminal authorities, and endeavor to select only such as were necessary and useful, and arrange them in a systematic manner, and with such notes and observations as would not only aid those engaged in the practice of the profession, as a ready hand-book for reference, but, at the same time, be of value as a text-book for the student and younger members of the profession.
The author cannot but acknowledge the assistance he has derived from the comprehensive notes of Mr. WATERMAN to the text of ARCHBOLD; and if this work, as a first effort in the line of authorship, should prove of any assistance to those public officers whose business it is to aid in the administration of public justice, or serve to lighten the labors of the legal profession, it is all the author expects.
J. H. C. TROY, N. Y., 1868.
II. Special sessions in the city and county of New York
III. Special sessions in the city of Brooklyn