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Carter v. United States

Citation. Carter v. United States, 530 U.S. 255 (U.S. 2000)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Carter sought a jury instruction of federal bank larceny after being convicted of federal bank robbery in 1997.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A defendant may be convicted of a lesser-included offense if that lesser offense maintains elements of the originally charged offense.


Carter was convicted of federal bank robbery and asked that the jury be instructed on the lesser-included offense of federal bank larceny, because violence was not used to obtain money from the bank. The district court denied Carter’s motion for the lesser-included offense and Carter was convicted of federal bank robbery. The court of appeals affirmed Carter’s conviction.


Whether federal bank larceny can be a lesser-included offense for federal bank robbery?


No. The judgment of both the district court and the circuit court of appeals are confirmed.


(Ginsburg, J.) The statute in question should be designed to mimic the common law definitions of robbery and larceny, and the common law definition of robbery is larceny by force. Larceny, therefore, is a lesser-included offense of robbery and Carter should be entitled to the jury instruction of the lesser-included offense.


To establish a lesser-included offense, the elements of the lesser offense must sustain all of the elements of the originally charged, or higher offense. If one element of the lesser offense is not included within the higher offense, then the defendant cannot be charged with the lesser-included offense. Because three elements of federal bank larceny are not required by federal bank robbery, Carter’s charges could not be reduced to a lesser-included offense.

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