298 A.2d 52 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1972), State v. Anonymous (1972-4)

Citation:298 A.2d 52, 6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 667
Opinion Judge:JACOBS, Judge.
Party Name:STATE of Connecticut v. ANONYMOUS (1972-4). [*]
Judge Panel:JACOBS,
Court:Circuit Court of Connecticut

Page 52

298 A.2d 52 (Conn.Cir.Ct. 1972)

6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 667

STATE of Connecticut

v.

ANONYMOUS (1972-4). [*]

Circuit Court of Connecticut.

1972

JACOBS, Judge.

The demurrer filed by the defendant attacks the constitutionality of General Statutes [6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 668] § 53a-181, the breach of peace statute (class B misdemeanor under the Penal Code) and § 53a-182, the disorderly conduct statute (class C misdemeanor). The defendant's basic claim is that these

Page 53

sections of the Penal Code are unconstitutionally vague in that 'said statutes are overbroad, and in their overbreadth infringe upon the rights of free speech, free press, free association, peaceful assembly and petition for redress of grievances-all in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.'

Prior to the adoption of the Penal Code (General Statutes, tit. 53a), effective October 1, 1971, the crime of breach of the peace (General Statutes § 53-174) and the offense of disorderly conduct (§ 53-175) penalized miscellaneous types of conduct tending to create public disorder, offensive conditions and petty annoyances to individuals. It may be said that these offenses, prior to the adoption of the Penal Code, received little systematic consideration by legislators, judges and scholars for the reason that the penalties involved were relatively minor and the defendants were usually from the lowest economic and social levels. Appeals from convictions were infrequent. Pressures for legislative reform were minimal. Yet, this vast area of the law-perhaps the most important area of criminal administration-affected the largest number of defendants, involved a great portion of police activity, and powerfully influenced the view of public justice held by millions of people.

The common-law crime of breach of the peace, perpetuated by our old breach of the peace statute (§ 53-174), was broadly defined as any behavior which disturbs or tends to disturb the tranquility of the citizenry. This definition was sufficiently comprehensive to include behavior which, though carried on quietly or privately, would tend to provoke[6 Conn.Cir.Ct. 669] an individual victim to violent reaction. See 1 Bishop, Criminal Law (9th Ed.) § 539. Our old disorderly conduct statute (§ 53-175) occupied, generally speaking, the same grounds as the common-law breach of the peace, put with a number of modifications and...

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