State v. Evans, No. 7849

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtTAYLOR; GIVENS, C. J., and PORTER; KEETON; THOMAS
Citation245 P.2d 788,73 Idaho 50
PartiesSTATE v. EVANS.
Decision Date16 June 1952
Docket NumberNo. 7849

Page 788

245 P.2d 788
73 Idaho 50
STATE

v.
EVANS.
No. 7849.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
June 16, 1952.

[73 Idaho 53]

Page 789

Robert E. Smylie, Atty. Gen., Robert M. Kerr, Jr., Prosecuting Atty., Blackfoot, for appellant.

J. Blaine Anderson, Blackfoot, for respondent.

[73 Idaho 54] TAYLOR, Justice.

The indictment charges the defendant with the felony of committing lewd and lascivious acts upon and with the body of a female child under the age of 16 years in

Page 790

violation of § 18-6607 I.C., which defines the crime as follows:

'Any person who shall wilfully and lewdly commit any lewd or lascivious act or acts upon or with the body or any part or member thereof of a minor or child under the age of sixteen years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of such person or of such minor or child, shall be guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned in the State Prison for a term of not more than life.'

Defendant's demurrer is as follows:

'That the facts stated in said Indictment do not constitute a public offense in that Section 18-6607, Idaho Code (S.L. '49, Ch. 214, p. 455) is unconstitutional and therefore void ab initio for the following reasons:

'a. Section 18-6607 denies the defendant the equal protection of the laws of the State of Idaho guaranteed by Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution.

'b. Section 18-6607 provides for cruel and unusual punishment in violation of Article 1, Section 6 of the Idaho Constitution.

'c. Section 18-6607 is indefinite and uncertain and by the Indictment under this unconstitutional act defendant is threatened the loss of liberty without due process of law in violation of Article 1, Section 13 of the Idaho Constitution.'

The court sustained the demurrer and discharged the defendant. The State appeals.

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment establishes the right of citizens of the several states to equal treatment under state law. It recognizes the right of the state, through its legislature, to classify persons and property, based upon reasonable and natural distinctions, to accomplish the legitimate purposes of its police power. If the classification is not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious, and under it all persons in like circumstances enjoy the same privileges and bear the same burdens, the classification does not deny equal protection of the law. State v. Calloway, 11 Idaho 719, 84 P. 27, 4 L.R.A.,N.S., 109; In re Mallon, 16 Idaho 737, 102 P. 374, 22 L.R.A.,N.S., 1123; State v. Horn, 27 Idaho 782, 152 P. 275; In re Bottjer, 45 Idaho 168, 260 P. 1095; State ex rel. Nielson v. Lindstrom, 68 Idaho[73 Idaho 55] 226, 191 P.2d 1009; People v. George, 42 Cal.App.2d 568, 109 P.2d 404; Chenoweth v. State Board of Medical Examiners, 57 Colo. 74, 141 P. 132, 51 L.R.A.,N.S., 958; Ratcliff v. State, 106 Tex.Cr.R. 37, 289 S.W. 1072; Com. of Pennsylvania ex rel. Sullivan v. Ashe, 302 U.S. 51, 58 S.Ct. 59, 82 L.Ed. 43; 16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, § 489, page 954. Classifications which recognize the need of special safeguards and protection for children are universally recognized. People v. Walton, 70 Cal.App.2d Supp. 862, 161 P.2d 498; 16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, § 491; 12 Am.Jur., Const. Law, § 498.

The inequality urged here is that the specific acts charged in the indictment as a violation of § 18-6607 are inferentially sufficient to charge the crime of assault with intent to commit rape (§ 18-907 I.C.) or some other sex crime the punishment for which is less than that provided by the statute under which the indictment is found. Hence, it is urged that the defendant may be subjected to a sentence of life imprisonment for acts which, if committed by another in like circumstances and charged--in the arbitrary discretion of the prosecuting officer--under another statute, would incur a penalty of only fourteen years or less. Thus, two persons in like circumstances may suffer different penalties, and are, therefore, denied equal protection of the law. A reading of the statutes defining other sex crimes makes it apparent that each deals with distinct and different acts and conduct by persons in different status or classifications than those set forth in § 18-6607. The nearest in point of definition, and from the similarity of the acts which may constitute the crime, is assault with intent to commit rape (18-907) involving as it does the definition of simple assault, which is as follows:

Page 791

'An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.' § 18-901 I.C.

When such an assault is coupled with the intent to commit rape, then the crime defined by § 18-907 is committed. The acts enumerated in this definition are not necessarily the same as those described in § 18-6607. When the intent in the two sections is taken into consideration in connection with the acts, it becomes apparent that distinct crimes are defined. If it is urged that the intent to rape is synonymous with the intent of 'gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires,' the answer is that the two may also be entirely different. We conclude that the statute does not make an arbitrary or unreasonable classification, and does not deny defendant equal protection of the laws.

The Attorney General, in defending § 18-6607 against defendant's claim that it is offensive to the Fourteenth Amendment, advances the proposition that insofar as it is repugnant to, overlaps, or is inconsistent with the statutory definition of assault with intent to commit rape, that is, where the assault is alleged to have occurred against [73 Idaho 56] the person of a female under sixteen, § 18-6607, being a later enactment (1949 S.L. p. 214) repeals the earlier law by implication. What we have said, particularly with reference to the distinction to be drawn as to the intent with which the acts are committed, indicates that the two statutes are not necessarily inconsistent. Storseth v. State, Idaho, 236 P.2d 1004; In re Dalton, Idaho, 243 P.2d 594. In a doubtful case the question as to which statute is applicable would be determined by the proof available as to the specific intent. Then, if the facts were such that a distinction could not thus be drawn, the later statute would control. Herrick v. Gallet, 35 Idaho 13, 204 P. 477; State v. Martinez, 43 Idaho 180, 250 P. 239; Poston v. Hollar, 64 Idaho 322, 132 P.2d 142; State v. Casselman, 69 Idaho 237, 205 P.2d 1131; State v. Teninty, 70 Idaho 1, 212 P.2d 412.

The constitutional provision that 'No person shall * * * be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,' Idaho Constitution, Art. 1, § 13, requires that the statute defining a crime be sufficiently explicit that all persons subject thereto may know what conduct on their part will subject them to its penalties. It must "be sufficiently certain to show what the Legislature intended to prohibit and punish". It "is sufficiently certain, although it may use general terms, if the offense is so defined as to convey to a person of ordinary understanding an adequate description of the evil intended to be prohibited." State v. Dingman, 37 Idaho 253, 219 P. 760, 764; State v. Burns, 53 Idaho 418, 23 P.2d 731; State v. Casselman, supra; State v. Campbell, 70 Idaho 408, 219 P.2d 956.

Respondent contends that the words 'lewd' and 'lascivious' are of such general import and cover such a wide range of action as to render the statute uncertain. Lascivious is defined to mean wanton, lewd, lustful, licentious, libidinous, salacious. Lewd is defined to mean licentious, lecherous, dissolute, sensual, debauched, impure, obscene, salacious, pornographic. Websters New International Dictionary, 2d Ed., Unabridged. Lewd and lascivious are words in common use and the definitions indicate with reasonable certainty the kind and character of acts and conduct which the legislature intended to prohibit and punish, so that a person of ordinary understanding may know what conduct on his part is condemned. Lewdness is a crime at common law. Although, under that law, it is limited to open and public acts of indecency, it bans the same conduct inhibited by the statute. Hence, the common law may be looked to for further definition of terms. Black's Law Dictionary, 3d Ed.; Ballantine's Law Dictionary; 33 Am.Jur., Lewdness, § 2; 53 C.J.S., Lewdness, § 2; State v. Barnett, 60 Okl.Cr. 355, 69 P.2d 77. The requirement that a law creating a crime must be sufficiently explicit to inform those subject to it, what conduct on their part will render [73 Idaho 57] them liable to its penalties, has particular force when applied to statutes creating new offenses unknown to the common law and which, for that reason, may not be generally understood, and are without a source of

Page 792

generally accepted construction. Some of the cases cited deal with such statutes and are therefore not controlling here. State v. Menderson, 57 Ariz. 103, 111 P.2d 622; Nash v. U. S., 229 U.S. 373, 33 S.Ct. 780, 57 L.Ed. 1232; Connally v. General Const. Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322; Ex parte Bell, 19 Cal.2d 488, 122 P.2d 22.

Moreover, the forbidden acts and conduct are further limited and defined by the specific intent required by the statute. That is, it prohibits only such lewd and lascivious acts as are committed with the intent therein detailed. So the certainty required by due process is present. State v. Omaechevviaria, 27 Idaho 797, 152 P. 280; Omaechevarria v. State of Idaho, 246 U.S. 343, 38 S.Ct. 323, 62 L.Ed. 763; Screws v. U. S., 325 U.S. 91, 65 S.Ct. 1031, 1036, 89 L.Ed. 1495; People v. Sims, 393 Ill. 238, 66 N.E.2d 86. See also: State v. Dingman, 37 Idaho 253, 219 P. 760; State v. Mead, 61 Idaho 449, 102 P.2d 915; Joseph Triner Corp. v. McNeil, 363 Ill. 559, 2 N.E.2d 929, 104 A.L.R. 1435; State v. Bevins, 210 Iowa 1031, 230 N.W. 865; State v. Prejean, 216 La. 1072, 45 So.2d 627;...

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71 practice notes
  • Lynch, In re, Cr. 16232
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 4, 1972
    ...281 P.2d 233, a sentence of life imprisonment for assault with intent to commit rape was voided on this ground. In State v. Evans (1952) 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788, it was held in effect that life imprisonment for lewd and lascivious acts upon a child would be so excessive as to constitute c......
  • State v. Bitt, No. 17722
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 13, 1990
    ...his conduct thereto. Idaho Const. Art. I, § 13; City of Lewiston v. Mathewson, 78 Idaho 347, 303 P.2d 680 (1956). See also State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788 (1952); State v. Musser, 67 Idaho 214, 176 P.2d 199 (1946). An ordinance which fulfills the requirements of certainty and defi......
  • State v. Cooper, No. 15574
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 22, 1983
    ...the sentences imposed in this case are approved. We also are supported by Troyer v. State, Alaska, 614 P.2d 313 (1980); State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788 (1952); Dembowski v. State, 251 Ind. 250, 240 N.E.2d 815 (1968); Workman v. Commonwealth, Ky., 429 S.W.2d 374, 33 A.L.R.3d 326 (1......
  • Peterson v. Hagan, TOP-HAT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • April 14, 1960
    ...Wilson v. Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co., 211 Ark. 77, 199 S.W.2d 328; City of Los Angeles v. Lewis, 175 Cal. 777, 167 P. 390; State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788; General Outdoor Advertising Co. v. Goodman, 128 Colo. 344, 262 P.2d Moreover, § 5 is void on its face so that the least exerc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
71 cases
  • Lynch, In re, Cr. 16232
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 4, 1972
    ...281 P.2d 233, a sentence of life imprisonment for assault with intent to commit rape was voided on this ground. In State v. Evans (1952) 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788, it was held in effect that life imprisonment for lewd and lascivious acts upon a child would be so excessive as to constitute c......
  • State v. Bitt, No. 17722
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 13, 1990
    ...his conduct thereto. Idaho Const. Art. I, § 13; City of Lewiston v. Mathewson, 78 Idaho 347, 303 P.2d 680 (1956). See also State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788 (1952); State v. Musser, 67 Idaho 214, 176 P.2d 199 (1946). An ordinance which fulfills the requirements of certainty and defi......
  • State v. Cooper, No. 15574
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 22, 1983
    ...the sentences imposed in this case are approved. We also are supported by Troyer v. State, Alaska, 614 P.2d 313 (1980); State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788 (1952); Dembowski v. State, 251 Ind. 250, 240 N.E.2d 815 (1968); Workman v. Commonwealth, Ky., 429 S.W.2d 374, 33 A.L.R.3d 326 (1......
  • Peterson v. Hagan, TOP-HAT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • April 14, 1960
    ...Wilson v. Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co., 211 Ark. 77, 199 S.W.2d 328; City of Los Angeles v. Lewis, 175 Cal. 777, 167 P. 390; State v. Evans, 73 Idaho 50, 245 P.2d 788; General Outdoor Advertising Co. v. Goodman, 128 Colo. 344, 262 P.2d Moreover, § 5 is void on its face so that the least exerc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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