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Piracy

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PIRACY. A robbery or forcible depreda tion on the high seas, without lawful author ity, done animo furandi, in the spirit and in tention of universal hostility. U. S. v. Palm er, 3 Wheat. (U. S.) 610, 4 L. Ed. 471; U. S. v. Smith, 5 Wheat. (U. S.) 153, 163, 5 L. Ed. 57 ; U. S. v. Jones, 3 Wash. C. C. 209, Fed. Cas. No. 15,494. This is the defini tion of this offence by the law of nations; 1 Kent 183.

It was not a felony at common law. In the 14th century suits in piracy become fre quent, but they were for restitution, disre garding the criminal aspect.

"Depredation upon the high' seas, with out authority from any sovereign." It is not necessary that the motive be plunder or that the depredations be directed against the vessels 'of all nations indiscriminately. As in robbery upon land, it is only neces sary that the spoliation or intended spolia tion be felonious, that is, with intent to injure, and without legal authority or law ful excuse; The Ambrose Light, 25 Fed: 408.

All nations and individuals are warranted in seizing pirates. It has been held by many authorities that insurgents who have not been accorded belligerent rights are pirates, although it may be their intention to prey upon no ships except those of their mother country whom they are resisting. The American colonists in the American Revolu tion were declared to be pirates by Great Britain, and so were the cruisers of the con federate government by the federal govern ment during the American Civil War ; Snow, Lect. Int. Law 52.

Piracy has two aspects: AS a violation of the common right of nations, punish able under the common law of nations by the seizure and condemnation of the vessel only, in prize courts; as a violation of the municipal law of the place where the offend ers are tried; Whart. Cr. L. § 2830; 1 Phil. Int. Law 488. Acts hostile in their nature, done for plunder, hatred, revenge, or mis chief,, or in the wanton exercise of power, are piratical; Harmony v. U. S., 2 How. (U. S.) 210, 11 L. Ed. 239, where the sub ject is elaborately discussed.

Property found on board a pirate ship goes to the Crown, of strict right ; but the claim of the original owner is admitted, on application ; 1 Hagg. Adm. 142. Ves

sels recaptured from 'pirates, after what ever length of time, are always restored to the owner on payment of salvage; 4 C. Rob. 3.

Congress may define and punish piracies and felonies on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations; . Const. U. S. art. 1, s. 7, n. 10; S. v. Bevans, 3 'Wheat. (U. S.) 336, 4 L. Ed. 404; U. S. v. Wiltberg er, 5 Wheat. (U. S.) 76, 5 L. Ed. 37; U. S. v. Smith, 5 Wheat. (U. S.) 153, 5 L. Ed. 57; U. S. v. Furlong, 5 Wheat. (U. S.) 184, 5 L. Ed. 64. The following are the sections of the Criminal Code: Every person who on the high seas commits the crime of piracy as defined by the Law of Nations, and is afterward brought into or found in the Unit ed States, shall be imprisoned for life; § 290, Every seaman who lays violent hands upon his commander, thereby to hinder and prevent his fight ing in the defence of his vessel or the goods en trusted to him, is a pirate and shall be imprisoned for life ; § 294. Robbery on shore committed by the crew of a piratical vessel Is piracy punishable by imprisonment for life; § 302. Every citizen who commits 'murder or robbery or act of hostility against the United States or any citizen thereof on the high seas under color of any commission from any foreign prince or state or on pretence of au thority from any person, is a pirate punishable by Imprisonment for ilfe; § 304. Every subject of a foreign state found upon the sea making war upon the United States or cruising against Its vessels or citizens contrary to the provisions of any treaty be tween the United States and the state of which he is a subject, when by such treaty such acts are de clared to be piracy, is guilty of piracy, and shall be imprisoned for life; § 305. Every person who knowingly. receives any vessel or other property feloniously taken' by any robber or pirate, against the. laws of the United States, and any person who, knowing that said pirate has committed any act of piracy or robbery on the land or sea, receives or conceals him, is accessory after the fact, and shall be imprisoned for not more than ten years; § 334. See RECAPTURE.

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