by Tristan

US. v. WILLIAM FOWLER ET AL., GR No. 496, 1902-12-31


The two defendants have been accused of the theft of sixteen bottles of champagne... while on board the transport Lawton, then navigating the high seas, which said bottles of champagne formed part of the cargo of the said vessel and... were the property of Julian Lindsay

The accused having been brought before the court,... alleging that the Court of First Instance was without jurisdiction to try the crime charged, inasmuch as it... appeared from the information that the crime was committed on the high seas, and not in the city of Manila, or within the territory comprising the Bay of Manila, or upon the seas within the 3-mile limit to which the jurisdiction of the court extends, and asked, upon these... grounds, that the case be dismissed.

This contention was opposed by the prosecuting attorney, who alleged that the court has original jurisdiction in all criminal cases in which the penalty exceeds six month's imprisonment, or a fine of over $100; that, in accordance with the orders of the Military Governor and... the Civil Commission admiralty jurisdiction over all crimes committed on board vessels flying the flag of the United States has been vested in the Courts of First Instance of the city of Manila.


Whether or not our court has jurisdiction over the criminal case theft committed on board while navigating on high seas on a vessel not registered in the Philippines.

This case deals with a theft committed on board a transport while navigating the high seas.


This law, which is an addition to Act No. 136, by which the courts of justice of the Philippine Islands were organized, in article 1 adds to article 56, consisting of seven paragraphs, another paragraph numbered 8, which reads as follows: "Of all crimes and offenses committed... on the high seas or beyond the jurisdiction of any country, or within any of the navigable waters of the Philippine Archipelago, on board a ship or water craft of any kind registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands in accordance with the laws thereof." The purpose of this... law was to define the jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance in criminal cases for crimes committed on board vessels registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands. The transport Lawton not being a vessel of this class, our courts are without jurisdiction to take... cognizance of a crime committed on board the same.