Four-Time Thief Escapes Baumes Law

Marcley pleads guilty to attempted larceny of a motorcycle in New York. Since this was his first offense, he received a suspended sentence, which, after the establishment of Baumes law five years later, saved him from later serving a life sentence.

In 1922, Marcley stole a couple of chickens from a chicken house and then some auto parts from a local store. For this, he was given a three-year sentence to Sing Sing state prison in Ossining, New York. Shortly after his release, Marcley was caught stealing a car–his fourth felony.

In 1926, New York passed the Baumes law, which stated that criminals must automatically be sentenced to life imprisonment on their fourth felony conviction. An early precursor to California’s Three Strikes law, New York’s Baumes law removed all sentencing discretion from the trial judge.

In 1930, when New York’s Court of Appeals took up Marcley’s case, a loophole allowed him to escape the harsh penalty: the majority concurred that his 1921 suspended sentence did not count as a conviction and Marcley was released.

Posted in Crime.

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