Where a greater and lesser thing meet, and the latter loses its separate existence and sinks into the former. It is applied to estates, rights, crimes, and torts.Estates. When a greater estate and less coincide and meet in one and the same person, without any intermediate estate, the less is immediately merged, that is, sunk or drowned in the latter; for example, if there be a tenant for years, and the reversion in fee simple descends to, or is purchased by him, the term of years is merged in the inheritance, and no longer exists; but they must be to one and the same person, at one and the same time, in one and the same right.The estate in which the merger takes place, is not enlarged by the accession of the preceding estate; and the greater, or only subsisting estate, continues, after the merger, precisely of the same quantity and extent of ownership, as it was before the accession of the estate which is merged, and the lesser estate is extinguished. As a general rule, equal estates will not drown in each other.The merger is produced, either from the meeting of an estate of higher degree, with an estate of inferior degree; or from the meeting of the particular estate and the immediate reversion, in the same person.
Crim. law. When a man commits a great crime which includes a lesser, the latter is merged in the former.Murder, when committed by blows, necessarily includes an assault and battery; a battery, an assault; a burglary, when accompanied with a felonious taking of personal property, a larceny in all these, and similar cases, the lesser crime is merged in the greater.But when one offence is of the same character with the other, there is no merger; as in the case of a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, and the misdemeanor is afterwards committed in pursuance of the conspiracy. The two crimes being of equal degree, there can be no legal merger.Rights. Rights are said to be merged when the same person who is bound to pay is also entitled to receive. This is more properly called a confusion of rights, or extinguishment.When there is a confusion of rights, and the debtor and creditor become the same person, there can be no right to put in execution; but there is an immediate merger. Example: a man becomes indebted to a woman in a sum of money, and afterwards marries her, there is immediately a confusion of rights, and the debt is merged or extinguished.Torts. Where a person in committing a felony also commits a tort against a private person; in this case, the wrong is sunk in the felony, at least, until after the felon's conviction.The old maxim that a trespass is merged in a felony, has sometimes been supposed to mean that there is no redress by civil action for an injury which amounts to a felony. But it is now established that the defendant is liable to the party injured either after his conviction or acquittal.. If the civil action be commenced before, the plaintiff will be nonsuited. Some say this doctrine is not extended beyond actions of trespass or tort.
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