Case Note: Criminal Law - Due Process - Statute Proscribing Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution Is Not Unconstitutionally Vague
probable cause, loitering, prostitution, void for vagueness, New York Penal Law, Fourth Amendment
In this case note, Sayde J. Markowitz analyzes People v. Smith, 88 Misc. 2d 590, 388 N.Y.S.2d 221 (Crim Ct. 1976), rev'd 393 N.Y.S.2d 229 (App. Div. 1st Dep't 1977). At approximately 2:15 a.m. on July 12, 1976, a police officer observed defendant female converse with two male passersby. Soon thereafter, defendant conversed with a third male with whom she entered a building known to accommodate prostitutes and their clientele. The two left the building a short time later. Defendant Smith was arrested and charged with violating section 240.37 of the New York Penal Law, which prohibits loitering for the purpose of prostitution. Following Ms. Smith's arrest, the court determined after a preliminary hearing that there was reasonable cause to believe that she had violated section 240.37.1 After indictment but before trial, defendant moved for a dismissal of the charge. Ms. Smith asserted that the statute is vague, overbroad and inhibits free speech. The Criminal Court of the City of New York agreed with all of the defendant's contentions and granted the motion to dismiss. The court held that the statute, insofar as it sanctioned detention on the basis of suspicion, infringed upon defendant's Fourth Amendment protection against arrest except for probable cause. The appellate term reversed and upheld the constitutionality of the statute.
Sayde J. Markowitz,
Case Note: Criminal Law - Due Process - Statute Proscribing Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution Is Not Unconstitutionally Vague,
6 Fordham Urb. L.J. 159
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ulj/vol6/iss1/8