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GIACCIO V. PENNSYLVANIA, 382 U. S. 399 (1966)

U.S. Supreme Court

Giaccio v. Pennsylvania, 382 U.S. 399 (1966)

Giaccio v. Pennsylvania

No. 47

Argued December 6, 1965

Decided January 19, 1966

382 U.S. 399


Appellant was acquitted following a jury trial on a misdemeanor indictment. Costs were assessed against him under an 1860 Pennsylvania statute permitting jurors to "determine, by their verdict, whether the [acquitted] defendant shall pay the costs," and providing for his commitment to jail in default of payment or security. The jury had been instructed that it could place the prosecution costs on appellant though found guiltless of the charges if nevertheless it found him guilty of "some misconduct" less than that charged, but which had brought on the prosecution and warranted some penalty short of conviction. The trial court upheld appellant's contention that the statute violated due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. The intermediate appellate court reversed the trial court, and was sustained by the State Supreme Court.

Held: The 1860 Act violates the Due Process Clause because of vagueness and the absence of any standards that would prevent arbitrary imposition of costs. Pp. 382 U. S. 402-405.

(a) Regardless of whether the Act is "penal" or "civil," it must meet the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 382 U. S. 402.

(b) The absence of any statutory standards is not cured by judicial interpretations that allow juries to impose costs on a defendant where they find the defendant's conduct, though not unlawful, was "reprehensible" or "improper," or where the jury finds that the defendant committed "some misconduct." Pp. 382 U. S. 402-405.

415 Pa. 139, 202 A.2d 55, reversed and remanded.

Page 382 U. S. 400

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