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TATE V. SHORT, 401 U. S. 395 (1971)

U.S. Supreme Court

Tate v. Short, 401 U.S. 395 (1971)

Tate v. Short

No. 324

Argued January 14, 1971

Decided March 2, 1971

401 U.S. 395


Petitioner, an indigent, was convicted of traffic offenses and fined a total of $425. Though Texas law provides only for fines for such offenses, it requires that persons unable to pay must be incarcerated for sufficient time to satisfy their fines, at the rate of $5 per day, which, in petitioner's case, meant an 85-day term. The state courts denied his petition for habeas corpus.

Held: It is a denial of equal protection to limit punishment to payment of a fine for those who are able to pay it, but to convert the fine to imprisonment for those who are unable to pay it. Williams v. Illinois, 399 U. S. 235. Pp. 401 U. S. 397-401.

445 S.W.2d 210, reversed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring statement, post, p. 401 U. S. 401. BLACK, J., concurred in the result. HARLAN, J., filed a statement concurring in the judgment, post, p. 401 U. S. 401.

Page 401 U. S. 396

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