In many contracts and judicial proceedings it is necessary that the parties should be present in order to reader them valid; for example, a party to a deed when it is executed by himself, must personally acknowledge it, when such acknowledgment is required by law, to give it its full force aud effect, and his presence is indispensable, unless, indeed, another person represent him as his attoruey, having authority from him for that purpose.
In the criminal law, presence is actual or constructive. When a larceny is committed in a house by two men, united in the same design, and one of them goes into the house, arid commits the crime, while the other is on the outside watching to prevent a surprise, the former is actually, an the latter constructively, present.It is a rule in the civil law, that he who is incapable of giving his consent to an act, is not to be considered present, although he be actually in the place; a lunatic, or a man sleeping, would not therefore be considered present. And so, if insensible or if the act were done secretly so that he knew nothing of it.The English statute of fraud directs that all devises and bequests of any lands or tenements shall be attested or subscribed in the presence of said devisor. Under this statute it has been decided that an actual presence is not indispensable, but that where there was a constructive presence it was sufficient; as, where the testatrix executed the will in her carriage standing in the street before the office of her solicitor, the witness retired into the office to attest it, and it being proved that the carriage was accidentally put back, so that she was in a situation to see the witness sign the will through the window of the office.
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