Campbell v. State, 39575

Decision Date14 October 1970
Docket NumberNo. 39575,39575
Citation240 So.2d 298
PartiesMichael David CAMPBELL, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Hughlan Long, Public Defender, and Lewis Kimler, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

Earl Faircloth, Atty. Gen., and Jesse J. McCrary, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

BOYD, Justice.

This cause is before us on appeal from the Criminal Court of Record, Dade County. That Court upheld the validity of Florida Statutes § 828.04, F.S.A., thereby vesting jurisdiction of the appeal in this Court under § 4 of Article V of the Florida Constitution, F.S.A.

Appellant Campbell was charged by Information with violating Florida Statutes § 828.04, F.S.A., which provides:

'Torturing or unlawfully punishing children.--Whoever tortures, torments, cruelly or unlawfully punishes, or willfully with malice, wantonly or unlawfully deprives of necessary food, clothing or shelter any person under the age of sixteen (16) years, and whoever willfully with malice or wantonly torments or deprives of necessary sustenance or raiment, or unnecessarily or excessively chastises, or mutilates his child or ward, or whoever willfully with malice or wantonly deprives such child or ward of necessary treatment and attention, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 2 years, or by fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) or both.'

Appellant's motion to dismiss the Information on constitutional grounds was denied. Subsequently he was tried and convicted of 'unlawfully punishing a minor child,' as set forth in count 1 of the Information and sentenced to 18 months in the State Penitentiary. He was placed on probation for 2 years.

On appeal to the District Court of Appeal, Third District, the cause was transferred here as being properly within the jurisdiction of this Court.

Appellant contends that Florida Statutes § 828.04, F.S.A. is unconstitutional in that it is too vague and indefinite to meet constitutional standards of due process. Specifically, appellant contends that the words 'unnecessarily or excessively' do not sufficiently define a standard of conduct prohibited by the Statute.

We find appellant's contentions without merit. The particular words complained of, 'unnecessarily or excessively' are not vague when considered in the context of the entire Statute and with a view to effectuating the purpose of the act. The fact that specific acts of chastisement are not enumerated, an impossible task at best, does not render the statutory standard void for vagueness. Criminal laws are not 'vague' simply because the conduct prohibited is described in general language. 1

In the instant case appellant was found guilty of Count 1 of the Information which charged him in the language of the Statute and, specifically, with 'beating and whipping' his seven-year old stepdaughter, ...

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16 cases
  • Bowers v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • July 13, 1978
    ...in most such legislation is similar in effect to that found in the statute at issue in the case before us. See, e. g., Campbell v. State, 240 So.2d 298 (Fla.1970) ("Whoever tortures, torments, cruelly or unlawfully punishes, . . . or unnecessarily or excessively chastises"); People v. Vandi......
  • Chambers v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 3, 1978
    ..."the intentional or knowing infliction of great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement"; Campbell v. State, 240 So.2d 298 (Fla.1970), "unnecessarily and excessively chastises"; Faust v. State, 354 So.2d 866 (Fla.1978), "willfully tortures", "maliciously punishes", "wi......
  • City of St. Petersburg v. Waller
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • April 12, 1972
    ...by general consent are 'fighting words' when said without a disarming smile.' . . .'10 Id. at 574, 62 S.Ct. at 770.11 Campbell v. State, 240 So.2d 298, 299 (Fla.1970): 'The particular words complained of, 'unnecessarily or excessively' are not vague when considered in the context of the ent......
  • Bowers v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • November 10, 1977
    .... . . (S)uch words as torture, beat, abuse, cruel punishment or inhuman punishment are hardly vague." (Emphasis supplied)); Campbell v. State, 240 So.2d 298 (Fla.) ("unnecessarily or excessively chastises"); People v. Curtiss, 116 Cal.App.Supp. 771, 300 P. 801 ("unjustifiable" treatment of ......
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