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§ 146. “Or has been Convicted, and is Under Sentence for any Offence.”

An offence is some act or omission which is triable and punishable, either on indictment or information, in a superior court before a jury, such as a felony or misdemeanor, or summarily before Justices, according to the direction of the law creating the offence. A person convicted of an offence of any description against the law of the Commonwealth or against the law of a State, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, or an offence punishable on summary conviction, and undergoing sentence of imprisonment for the term of one year or more, is disqualified for membership until he has served his sentence.

In England persons convicted of treason or felony, and sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour, or for a term exceeding twelve months, are incapable of being elected members of the House of Commons or of sitting and voting therein until they have served their sentence. (33 and 34 Vic. c. 23, sec. 2.) Conviction for misdemeanor or offences punishable summarily does not disqualify for membership of the House of Commons. The House, however, has jurisdiction to expel any member guilty of an infamous or disgraceful offence, even though it does not amount to a felony followed by a conviction and sentence as above defined.

In 1875 John Mitchel was returned to the House of Commons for the County of Tipperary, without a contest. It was well known that he was an escaped prisoner and had not completed the term of transportation for which he had been sentenced. A new writ was accordingly issued, and Mitchel was again returned to the House, after a contest. The defeated candidate filed a petition against Mitchel's return and praying for the seat. It was referred to the Court of Common Pleas in Ireland, and the petitioner, who had given due notice of the disqualification, was adjudged entitled to the seat. (May, 10th ed. pp. 33 and 619.)

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