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Generally, where Congress uses a common law term in a federal criminal statute without otherwise defining it, Congress is presumed to adopt the meaning given that term at common law. Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 263, 96 L. Ed. 288, 72 S. Ct. 240 (1952); United States v. Nedley, 255 F.2d 350, 357 (3d Cir. 1958). Of course, Congress is not compelled to adopt common law concepts when it creates a statutory crime. United States v. Bailey, 444 U.S. 394, 406, 62 L. Ed. 2d 575, 100 S. Ct. 624 (1980). If Congress uses a term in a criminal statute which has no widely accepted common law meaning at the time of enactment, the term should be given the meaning consistent with the purpose of the enactment and its legislative history. United States v. Turley, 352 U.S. 407, 411-13, 1 L. Ed. 2d 430, 77 S. Ct. 397 (1957). Even if the word had a generally accepted common law meaning, the courts will not impose that meaning if there are 'grounds for inferring an affirmative instruction from Congress' to define it otherwise. Morissette, 342 U.S. at 273. For example, the courts should not ...

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