[ Thomas ]
[ Ginsburg ]
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
CARTER v. UNITED STATES
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
Having donned a ski mask and entered a bank, petitioner Carter confronted an exiting customer and pushed her back inside. She screamed, startling others in the bank. Undeterred, Carter ran inside and leaped over a counter and through one of the teller windows. A teller rushed into the managers office. Meanwhile, Carter opened several teller drawers and emptied the money into a bag. After removing almost $16,000, he jumped back over the counter and fled. He was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), which punishes [w]hoever, by force and violence, or by intimidation, takes any thing of value [from a] bank. While not contesting the basic facts, Carter pleaded not guilty on the theory that he had not taken the banks money by force and violence, or by intimidation, as §2113(a) requires. Before trial, he moved for a jury instruction on the offense described by §2113(b) as a lesser included offense of the offense described by §2113(a). Section 2113(b) entails less severe penalties than §2113(a), punishing, inter alia, [w]hoever takes and carries away, with intent to steal or purloin, any thing of value exceeding $1,000 [from a] bank. The District Court denied the motion. The jury, instructed on §2113(a) alone, returned a guilty verdict, pursuant to which the District Court entered judgment. The Third Circuit affirmed.
Held: Because §2113(b) requires three elements not required by §2113(a), it is not a lesser included offense of §2113(a), and petitioner is prohibited as a matter of law from obtaining a lesser included offense instruction on the offense described by §2113(b). Pp. 318.
(a) In Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705, 716, this Court held that a defendant who requests a jury instruction on a lesser offense under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 31(c) must demonstrate that the elements of the lesser offense are a subset of the elements of the charged offense. This elements test requires a textual comparison of criminal statutes, which lends itself to certain and predictable outcomes. Id., at 720. Here, the Government contends that three elements required by §2113(b) are not required by §2113(a). A textual comparison of the elements of the two offenses suggests that the Government is correct. Whereas §2113(b) requires (1) that the defendant act with intent to steal or purloin, (2) that the defendant tak[e] and carr[y] away the property, and (3) that the property have a value exceeding $1,000, §2113(a) contains no such requirements. These extra clauses in subsection (b) cannot be regarded as mere surplusage; they mean something. Potter v. United States, 155 U.S. 438, 446. The Court rejects Carters assertion that the foregoing application of the elements test is too rigid. Although he is correct that normal principles of statutory construction apply, the Court rejects his claim that such principles counsel a departure here from what is indicated by a straightforward reading of the text. Pp. 36.
(b) The Court rejects Carters arguments pertinent to the general relationship between §§2113(a) and (b). His first contentionthat it would be anomalous to impose criminal liability on a fence who receives bank property from a §2113(b) violator, as the text of §2113(c) plainly provides, but not on a fence who receives such property from a §2113(a) violator, unless §2113(b) is a lesser included offense of §2113(a)is unpersuasive because the anomaly, if it truly exists, is only an anomaly. It is doubtful that it rises to the level of absurdity. Cf. Green v. Bock Laundry Machine Co., 490 U.S. 504, 509511, 527. In any event, nothing in §2113(c) purports to redefine the elements required by the text of §§2113(a) and (b). Although more substantial, Carters second argumentthat, insofar as §§2113(a) and (b) are similar to common-law robbery and larceny, the Court must assume that they require the same elements as their common-law predecessors, absent Congress affirmative indication of an intent to displace the common-law schemeis also unavailing because the canon on imputing common-law meaning applies only when Congress makes use of a statutory term with established meaning at common law. See, e.g., Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 263. Although robbery and larceny are terms with such meanings, neither term appears in the text of §2113(a) or §2113(b). While robbery appears in §2113s title, the title of a statute is of use only when it sheds light on some ambiguous word or phrase in the statute itself. E.g., Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 212. Carter does not claim that this title illuminates any such ambiguous language. Pp. 610.
(c) The Court also rejects Carters specific arguments concerning §2113(b)s three extra elements. Pp. 1018.
(i) Carter is mistaken when he argues that an intent to steal or purloin requirement must be deemed implicit in §2113(a) by virtue of this Courts cases interpreting criminal statutes silent as to mens rea to include broadly applicable scienter requirements, see, e.g., United States v. X-Citement Video, Inc., 513 U.S. 64, 70. The presumption in favor of scienter generally requires a court to read into a statute only that mens rea which is necessary to separate wrongful conduct from otherwise innocent conduct. Id., at 72. In this case, interpreting §2113(a) not to apply to a person who engages in innocent, if aberrant, activity is accomplished simply by requiring general intenti.e., proof of knowledge with respect to the crimes actus reus (here, the taking of property of another by force or violence or intimidation). See, e.g., Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600, 611612. And once this mental state and actus reus are shown, the concerns underlying the presumption in favor of scienter are fully satisfied, for a forceful takingeven by a defendant taking under a good-faith claim of rightfalls outside the realm of the otherwise innocent. Thus, the presumption in favor of scienter does not justify reading a specific intent requirementintent to steal or purloin
into §2113(a). Carters reliance on §2113(a)s legislative history is unavailing in light of this Courts approach to statutory interpretation, which begins by examining the text, see, e.g., Estate of Cowart v. Nicklos Drilling Co., 505 U.S. 469, 475, not by psychoanalyzing those who enacted it, Bank One Chicago, N. A. v. Midwest Bank & Trust Co., 516 U.S. 264, 279. Pp. 1014.
(ii) Similarly, Carters claim that §2113(b)s takes and carries away requirement should be deemed implicit in §2113(a) also fails. His argument that takes in §2113(a) is equivalent to takes and carries away in §2113(b) is at war with the statutes text. His suggestion that the text is not dispositive because nothing in §2113(a)s evolution suggests that Congress sought to discard the common-law asportation requirement ignores the fact that the Courts inquiry begins with the textual product of Congress efforts, not with speculation as to the internal thought processes of its Members. Congress is free to outlaw bank theft that does not involve asportation, and it hardly would have been absurd for Congress to do so, since the taking-without-asportation scenario has actually occurred. While the common laws decision to require asportation may have its virtues, Congress adopted a different view in §2113(a), and it is not for this Court to question that choice. Pp. 1415.
(iii) Finally, the Court disagrees with Carters claim that §2113(b)s requirement that the property taken have a value exceeding $1,000 is a sentencing factor, not an element of the crime. First, §2113(b)s structure strongly suggests that its two paragraphsthe first of which uses the phrase in question, requiring that the property taken have value exceeding $1,000, the second of which refers to property of value not exceeding $1,000describe distinct offenses. Each begins with the word [w]hoever, proceeds to describe identically (apart from the differing valuation requirements) the elements of the offense, and concludes by stating the prescribed punishment. That these provisions stand on their own grammatical feet strongly suggests that Congress intended the valuation requirement to be an element of each paragraphs offense, rather than a sentencing factor of some base §2113(b) offense. Jones v. United States, 526 U.S. 227, 234. Furthermore, the steeply higher penaltiesan enhancement from a 1-year to a 10-year maximum penalty on proof of valuation exceeding $1,000leads to the conclusion that the valuation requirement is an element of §2113(b)s first paragraph. See, e.g., Castillo v. United States, ante, at ___. Finally, the constitutional questions that would be raised by interpreting the valuation requirement to be a sentencing factor persuade the Court to adopt the view that the requirement is an element. See Jones, supra, at 239252. Pp. 1518.
185 F.3d 863, affirmed.
Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and OConnor, Scalia, and Kennedy, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Breyer, JJ., joined.