Carpentier v. State

Decision Date25 July 1991
Docket NumberNo. 89-2758,89-2758
Citation587 So.2d 1355
Parties16 Fla. L. Weekly D1931, 16 Fla. L. Weekly D2779 Dennis CARPENTIER, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Sua sponte, we withdraw our earlier opinion filed July 19, 1991, and substitute the following therefor.

NIMMONS, Judge.

The appellant was convicted of second degree murder (a lesser offense of the first degree murder charged in Count I), attempted murder of a law enforcement officer (as charged in count III), and aggravated assault (a lesser offense of the attempted murder of a law enforcement officer charged in count IV).

On this direct appeal, among appellant's contentions is that Section 784.07(3), Florida Statutes (1988 Supp.), is unconstitutionally vague. That section provides:

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other section, any person who is convicted of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer engaged in the lawful performance of his duty or who is convicted of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer when the motivation for such attempt was related, all or in part, to the lawful duties of the officer, shall be guilty of a life felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.0825.

Appellant contends that the statute is vague in that it fails to state whether the statute requires a showing that a defendant have knowledge that the victim was a law enforcement officer.

As can be seen, the statute applies (1) when the officer was engaged in the lawful performance of his duty, or (2) when the motivation for the attempt was related, all or in part, to the lawful duties of the officer. Unlike the related offense of assault or battery on a law enforcement officer (Section 784.07(2)), there is no apparent scienter requirement when the violation occurs in the manner described above in alternative # 1. 1

Florida courts have long adopted the Connally rule from Connally v. General Const. Co., 269 U.S. 385, 391, 46 S.Ct. 126, 127, 70 L.Ed. 322 (1926) which requires that a penal statute

must be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it what conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties is a well recognized requirement, consonant alike with ordinary notions of fair play and the settled rules of law; and a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law.

See State v. Hagan, 387 So.2d 943, 945 (Fla.1980).

With respect to the offense described in alternative # 1 of the statute, it is clear that there is no vagueness insofar as any scienter requirement. The statute simply does not require that the offender have knowledge that the victim was a law enforcement officer. This is certainly not surprising. In modern day law enforcement, particularly with the high incidence of drug trafficking in today's culture, it is frequently necessary for law enforcement officers to operate undercover and to ostensibly cooperate with the criminal element. The Legislature apparently determined that one who attempts to murder an undercover officer should be dealt with as severely as one who attempts to murder a uniformed officer. Criminals know that the possibility always exists that those with whom they ply their felonious trade may be undercover police officers. On this theme, we note that the Legislature recently expressed an intent to provide law enforcement officers with the "greatest protection which can be provided through the laws of this state" because of their exposure to great risk of violence. Chapter 89-100, section 2, Laws of Florida.

The knowledge element which has been excluded relates solely to the status of the victim. Such exclusion does not render the statute vulnerable to the kind of attack leveled by this appellant. See Simmons v. State, 151 Fla. 778, 10 So.2d 436 (1942). Lambert v. California, 355 U.S. 225, 78 S.Ct. 240, 2 L.Ed.2d 228 (1957).

With respect to violations committed in the manner described in alternative # 2, i.e., when the motivation for the attempt was related, all or in part, to the lawful duties of the officer, it may well be that this method of violation necessarily requires knowledge that the victim is a law enforcement officer. One scenario would be where the offender attempts to murder an officer, who was not then engaged in the performance of his duties, in order to "get even" with the officer for the latter's earlier enforcement of the law against the offender. However, just because alternative # 2 may require such scienter does not mean that alternative # 1 requires it. Both alternative methods of violation have what appear to be readily understandable fields of play and are not afflicted with constitutional vagueness.

But, appellant further contends that the statute is fatally vague because it is not clear whether the statute, in referring to "murder," refers to all degrees of murder. This court has recently had occasion to consider such contention and rejected same. Nephew v. State, 580 So.2d 305 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). There is nothing vague about the term "murder" in the subject statute. The term is, of course, defined elsewhere in the Florida Statutes, specifically Chapter 782. Appellant contends that there are different types of murder with varying penalties and different types of attempted murder, likewise with varying penalties, and that due to such variation, the Legislature could not have intended to treat all attempted murders of law enforcement officers the same. However, from the fact that the Legislature chose to use the term "murder," it appears obvious that the Legislature concluded that one who attempts to murder a law enforcement officer should be subject to the same penalties, irrespective of the circumstances under which the attempted murder was committed.

It is true that, under current law, a person convicted of third degree murder of a law enforcement officer would receive a less severe sentence than one convicted of attempted murder of an officer under Section 784.07(3). However, there is no requirement that the Legislature address all related evils simultaneously or that it even address all related evils. State ex. rel. Florida R. Com'rs v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 60 Fla. 218, 53 So. 601, 610 (1910) (validity of one legislative regulation not affected by the failure to regulate other matters within the legislative power); Brotherhood of Loc. Firemen & Eng. v. Chicago R.I. & D.R. Co., 393 U.S. 129, 89 S.Ct. 323, 21 L.Ed.2d 289 (1968).

We have examined the other issues raised by app...

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15 cases
  • State v. Barnum
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • September 22, 2005
    ...of the victim's status was not an essential element of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. See Carpentier v. State, 587 So.2d 1355, 1357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). The Fifth District had concluded to the contrary. See Grinage v. State, 641 So.2d 1362, 1365 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994), approved......
  • Mills v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • June 20, 2002
    ...without deciding, that section 784.07(3) creates a new substantive offense), approved, 656 So.2d 457 (Fla.1995); Carpentier v. State, 587 So.2d 1355 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (analyzing the "offense described" in section 784.07(3), Florida Statutes (Supp.1988), in determining that the statute was......
  • Thompson v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 31, 1996
    ...clearly does not require that the offense be committed "knowingly." Therefore, we agree with the First District in Carpentier v. State, 587 So.2d 1355 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991), review denied 599 So.2d 654 (Fla.1992) and the cases that follow, Isaac v. State, 626 So.2d 1082 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993), r......
  • State v. Stevens
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 26, 1998
    ...had never been approved by this Court before, and very few district courts had ruled on the subject. See generally Carpentier v. State, 587 So.2d 1355 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991) (denying a vagueness claim to section 784.07(3)); Gantorius v. State, 620 So.2d 268 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993) (citing to Carpen......
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