Legal Questions

In what case can an accused not be convicted of a crime different from that designated in the complaint or information even if the recitals allege the commission of the crime?

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If it involves:

  1. a change of the theory of the trial
  2. requires of the defendant a different defense
  3. surprises the accused in any way

Some situational examples:

X was accused of illegal possession of firearms, but the information did not allege that X did not have any license to possess the firearm.  Is the information valid?

No.  The absence of the license is an essential element of the offense.  Therefore, it should be alleged in the complaint or information.

X was charged with illegal possession of opium.  X contends that the information was invalid for failure to allege that he did not have a prescription from a physician.  Is X correct?

No.  The absence of the prescription is not an essential element of the offense and is only a matter of defense.  It need not be alleged in the information.

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