State v. Frechette, No. 92-652

Docket NºNo. 92-652
Citation637 A.2d 1080, 161 Vt. 233
Case DateDecember 27, 1993
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 1080

637 A.2d 1080
161 Vt. 233
STATE of Vermont,
v.
Michael FRECHETTE.
No. 92-652.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
Dec. 27, 1993.

Page 1081

Jeffrey L. Amestoy, Atty. Gen., and David Tartter, Asst. Atty. Gen., Montpelier, for plaintiff-appellant.

Robert H. Anderson, Colchester, for defendant-appellee.

Before ALLEN, C.J., and GIBSON, DOOLEY, MORSE and JOHNSON, JJ.

ALLEN, Chief Justice.

The State of Vermont appeals the district court's dismissal of an information filed against defendant Michael Frechette for alleged violations of 13 V.S.A. §§ 2102, 2143(a). We affirm.

Defendant is a director of the Regular Veterans Association Post # 1, Inc. (RVA), a not-for-profit organization. He operated bingo nights for the RVA on three separate occasions in November 1992, and paid nonmembers to assist in running the games. Games of chance are permitted under 13 V.S.A. § 2143(a), which provides an exception to the general prohibition against gambling[161 Vt. 234] in Vermont established in § 2102. * Section 2143(a) reads, in relevant part: "Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, a nonprofit organization may organize and execute, and an individual may participate in, lotteries, raffles or other games of chance for the purpose of raising funds to be used in charitable undertakings." 13 V.S.A. § 2143(a). Intentional violation of § 2143(a) carries a mandatory criminal fine of up to $500, id. § 2143(e)(1), in addition to the criminal penalties established in § 2102. Defendant was charged with six counts of illegal gambling in violation of 13 V.S.A. §§ 2102 and 2143(a).

According to the State, the RVA exceeded the scope of its power to "organize and execute" under § 2143(a) by paying nonmembers for their assistance in operating the bingo games. Defendant moved to dismiss the charges, and the district court granted the motion. The court held § 2143(a) void for vagueness because the statute does not adequately distinguish between permissible and impermissible overhead expenses associated with the running of games by nonprofit organizations for charity. The court postponed entry of judgment pending this appeal.

At issue is whether § 2143(a) prohibits a nonprofit organization from paying nonmember employees to assist in running bingo operations. As a penal statute, § 2143(a) must be interpreted in a manner most favorable to the accused, but not so strictly as to defeat the legislative purpose in enacting the law or to produce absurd consequences. See State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 484, 431 A.2d 1237, 1239 (1981). This rule of construction "guard[s] against...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 practice notes
  • State v. Waters, No. 11–319.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 15, 2013
    ...constitute a violation of [the order], thereby subjecting him to loss of liberty.” Id. (quotations omitted); see also State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 235–36, 637 A.2d 1080, 1082 (1993) (“To be enforceable, criminal statutes ... must define a criminal offense with sufficient certainty so as......
  • State v. Quinn, No. 94-675
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 22, 1996
    ...statutes most favorably to the accused, we do not do so to defeat legislative intent or reach an absurd result. See State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 234, 637 A.2d 1080, 1081 (1993). We believe that defendant's construction produces an irrational result which we should The term "explosive" i......
  • State v. Galusha, No. 94-248
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • August 4, 1995
    ...trial court relied on the maxim that penal statutes should be interpreted in a manner most favorably to the accused. State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 234, 637 A.2d 1080, 1081 [164 Vt. 93] (1993). The rationale behind this rule is that strict construction is essential to "guard against the c......
3 cases
  • State v. Waters, No. 11–319.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 15, 2013
    ...constitute a violation of [the order], thereby subjecting him to loss of liberty.” Id. (quotations omitted); see also State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 235–36, 637 A.2d 1080, 1082 (1993) (“To be enforceable, criminal statutes ... must define a criminal offense with sufficient certainty so as......
  • State v. Quinn, No. 94-675
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 22, 1996
    ...statutes most favorably to the accused, we do not do so to defeat legislative intent or reach an absurd result. See State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 234, 637 A.2d 1080, 1081 (1993). We believe that defendant's construction produces an irrational result which we should The term "explosive" i......
  • State v. Galusha, No. 94-248
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • August 4, 1995
    ...trial court relied on the maxim that penal statutes should be interpreted in a manner most favorably to the accused. State v. Frechette, 161 Vt. 233, 234, 637 A.2d 1080, 1081 [164 Vt. 93] (1993). The rationale behind this rule is that strict construction is essential to "guard against the c......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT