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statement in the indictment and the proof of names, dates, and all matters and circumstances, if the Court before which the trial is proceeding shall consider the variance not material to the merits of the case, and that the defendant cannot thereby be prejudiced in his defence.
Important changes are made in the form of indictments for murder, manslaughter, &c. In the cases of murder and manslaughter, it is no longer necessary to describe the means by which the death was caused, and the indictment is reduced to the shortest and most simple form of accusation possible. In indictments for forging and uttering, it is declared to be sufficient to describe the instrument forged by any name or designation by which the same may be usually known, without setting it out or otherwise describing it; and in cases of forging, uttering, obtaining, and attempting to obtain money by false pretences, an intent to defraud some particular person need not in future be laid; a general intent to defraud being enough.
In any plea of Autrefois Convict or Autrefois Acquit, it will be sufficient, in future, for the defendant to state that he has been lawfully convicted or acquitted (as the case may be) of the said offence charged in the indictment.
The doctrine of merger, in cases of misdemeanor, is virtually abolished by sect. 12 ; and it is enacted (sect. 9), that on indictments for felony it will be lawful for the jury to find the prisoner guilty of an attempt to commit it, acquitting him of the felony.
1 Vict. c. 85, s. 11, is wholly repealed ; and on indictments for offences which include an assault against the person, the prisoner can no longer be found guilty of a common assault; but in cases of felony and misdemeanor the prisoner may be found guilty of an attempt to commit the offence; in robbery, of an assault with intent to rob; and in indictments for felonious wounding, of wounding without a felonious intent.
The right of a party prosecuted for a misdemeanor to traverse or postpone the trial is taken away by this act, and he must now plead and go to trial instanter, as in felony.
The Act for the better prevention of Offences, 14 & 15 Vict. c. 19, and the Act to amend the Law relating to Expenses of Prosecutions, 14 & 15 Vict. c. 55, also contain several important provisions, which will be found explained in the notes to those statutes.
The editor has endeavoured to make this edition of these important statutes practically useful. Prefixed to them will be found introductory observations on the original object of the law in requiring written accusations against persons accused of crimes, together with a statement of all the requisites of an indictment under the new state of the law.
Notes will be found to each section that seemed to call for remark, and Precedents of Indictments, remodelled according to the statutes, have been added in an Appendix.
TEMPLE, August, 1851.