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.

Included in

Criminal Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.