D was charged with violating the state's "Peeping Tom" statute, which made punishable as a misdemeanor, "any person who shall peep secretly into any room occupied by a female."
D contended that the statute was unconstitutionally vague because people would have to guess at its meaning and differ as to its application.
D also argued that the statute was unconstitutionally overbroad since it prohibited innocent conduct.
Trial court found for D, statute unconstitutional.
NC Supreme Court reversed, found for state, statute constitutional.
Must a criminal statue be sufficiently definite to give notice of the required conduct to be avoided and to guide a judge in its application and the lawyer in defending one charged with its violation?
A criminal statue must be sufficiently definite to give notice of the required conduct to be avoided and to guide a judge in its application and the lawyer in defending one charged with its violation.
G.S. 14-202 prohibits the wrongful spying into a room upon a female with the intent of violating the female's legitimate expectation of privacy.
This is sufficient to inform a person of ordinary intelligence of what kind of acts the statute intends to prohibit.
Also, the statute is sufficiently narrowed by judicial interpretation to omit form its scope those persons who have a legitimate purpose in looking and those who accidentally glance in someone's window.
The statute is not so overbroad as to proscribe legitimate conduct.
Most statutes must deal with unforeseen variations in factual situations, and legislators are limited in the specificity they can use to spell out prohibitions.
It is not unfair to require that one who deliberately goes perilously close to an area of proscribed conduct shall take the risk that he may cross the line.