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The following work was undertaken with a view to supply to the legal profession in Ireland, the criminal statute law of the country, in a portable and commodious form, and to illustrate the stat by cases decided by the Judges; but, as the Compiler advanced, he found that by a little addition, his labor might also be made useful to the magistrates and coroners of the country, who, for many years at least, have been without any written guide on which they could rely, in the discharge of their important duties. It also occurred to him, that the treatises of Archbold and Roscoe, admirable as they are in execution, had nevertheless left untouched some subjects connected with the practice of the courts of criminal jurisdiction.
An attempt has, therefore, been made to give to the legal profession, a supplement to the various English treatises on the subject; and to the magistrates and other ministerial functionaries, plain and explicit instructions for the correct discharge of their duties.
The professional reader will be able at once to appreciate the design and the execution ; but perhaps a few words are necessary, in order that the magistrates who may not have received a legal education may be the better able to understand and apply the enactments and legal principles stated in the following pages.
It is recommended that he should carefully peruse the note on the different degrees of crime, which begins in p. 363, and particularly that part of it relating to felony and misdemeanor; and whenever he is called on to exert himself in bringing a party to justice, let him first endeavour to ascertain in what grade of crime, whether treason, felony, or misdemeanor, the offence with which the party stands charged is to be classed. This inquiry is the more important, as the powers and privileges both of magistrates and constables in each particular case will be found very much to vary accordingly. Thus, even a single magistrate must bail, in cases of misdemeanor, while in felony he cannot, but must either commit the party, or refer the question of bailment to two magistrates. So also, a constable having a warrant against a party charged with felony, may kill him, if he flies from arrest, and cannot otherwise be made amenable ; but mere flight will not justify the constable in taking the life of a person charged with misdemeanor. Nothing less than actual resistance, combined with inevitable necessity, will excuse him. It
may also be remarked, that no crime amounts to treason except those which are made so by positive statute and are specified in the section on that head; it is believed, also, that every offence, which in law amounts to felony, has been made mention of in the following pages, as such. The remaining class of offences, however, comprises not only those hereafter particularised as misdemeanors, but also all such as are against the first principles of justice, and of dangerous consequence to the public; thus forgery,
generally or at common law, which is a misdemeanor, has not been particularly treated of; but forgery of a great number of instruments, as deeds, wills, bonds, &c., has been made felony by statute law, as may be seen by reference to the title, p. 48.
Those parts of the statutes which the Compiler found to have been repealed, are pointed out by Italics ; but this is not meant to apply to those sections enclosed in brackets, where the Italic character is used to shew that the substance only, and not the words of the act, have been given.
26 Gardiner's Place, 1st July, 1837.