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States have an interest in protecting the quality of life of citizens, and therefore prohibit crimes against the public. Most jurisdictions criminalize disorderly conduct, which is making a loud and unreasonable noise, obscene utterance or gesture, fighting, threatening or stating fighting words, or creating a hazardous condition in public, with the specific intent or purposely or reckless intent to cause public inconvenience and alarm or a risk thereof. Disorderly conduct statutes target speech, so they are subject to constitutional challenges under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Disorderly conduct is typically graded as a misdemeanor. Unconstitutionally vague statutes criminalizing vagrancy have been supplanted by precisely drafted statutes criminalizing loitering, which is loitering, wandering, or remaining with specific intent or purposely to gamble, beg, or commit prostitution in a specified area. Loitering is typically graded as a misdemeanor or a violation. Panhandling or begging is also criminal in many jurisdictions, and panhandling statutes should be narrowly tailored to target aggressive conduct or conduct that blocks public access or the normal flow of traffic. Sit-lie laws prohibit sitting or lying down with strict liability intent in public or on a sidewalk during specified times in certain areas. Sit-lie laws are subject to constitutional challenges as cruel and unusual punishment or void for vagueness and are typically graded as an infraction.
Group conduct tends to enhance the potential for force and violence. Most jurisdictions criminalize unlawful assembly, which is purposefully assembling or meeting to cause a breach of the peace, and failure to disperse, which is the knowing refusal or failure to disperse when ordered to by law enforcement. Both unlawful assembly and failure to disperse statutes are subject to constitutional challenges under the First Amendment or as void for vagueness and overbroad, require the attendant circumstance of a group minimum of two, three, or five, and are graded as a misdemeanor. Most jurisdictions also criminalize riot, which is group commission of an unlawful act of violence or a lawful act in an unlawful manner, with the specific intent or purposely to commit or facilitate a misdemeanor or felony or prevent official action, or the general intent or knowingly that one of the group plans to use a firearm or deadly weapon. In some jurisdictions, riot is a strict liability offense. A few jurisdictions require the defendants to be the factual and legal cause of riot harm, which is public terror and alarm. Riot typically requires the attendant circumstance of a group minimum of two, five, or six and is graded as a misdemeanor or a felony if a firearm is used or if there is property damage or physical injury to someone other than the defendants.
Gang conduct is prohibited federally and in state statutes. States either criminalize gang conduct as gang participation, enhance a penalty for a crime committed by a criminal gang or gang member, or both. Gang participation is generally furthering the commission of a felony for the benefit of a criminal gang with the general intent or knowingly that other members participate in gang activity and is a felony. Gang enhancement statutes enhance the penalty for the commission of a felony or misdemeanor at the direction of or to further a criminal gang. Civil responses to gang conduct are civil gang activity statutes providing for damages and civil gang injunctions, which prohibit gang association, hand signs, wearing of gang colors, and loitering in areas known for gang activity. Statutes regulating gangs are subject to constitutional challenges under the First Amendment and as void for vagueness or overbroad.
All states and the federal government criminalize specific controlled substances offenses. Jurisdictions classify drugs in schedules, based on their harmful or addictive qualities, and punish drug offenses accordingly. Common offenses are the manufacture, cultivation, possession for personal use or sale, sale, and use of scheduled drugs, with the grading ranging from a felony to an infraction, depending on the offense and the drug. Some jurisdictions provide rehabilitation combined with probation as a penalty for nonviolent offenders through a drug court procedure. Some jurisdictions also legalize marijuana for medical use, which could violate federal supremacy because the federal government does not legalize marijuana for this purpose.
All states except Nevada criminalize prostitution. In Nevada, only prostitution that occurs in a licensed house of prostitution is noncriminal. Prostitution is offering, agreeing, or engaging in specified sexual conduct for money or anything of value, with strict liability or general intent or knowingly in most jurisdictions, and is typically graded as a misdemeanor with sentencing enhancements for habitual offenders, prostitution that occurs near a school, or patronizing a juvenile prostitute. Pimping is generally receiving something of value from a prostitute, with general intent or knowingly that it was earned by prostitution, and is graded as a misdemeanor or a felony with sentencing enhancements if the defendant uses force or the prostitute is a juvenile. Pandering is generally procuring another for an act of prostitution with specific intent or purposely and is typically graded as a felony with sentencing enhancement if the pandering takes place near a school.
You are a legislator with a perfect record for voting on statutes that are constitutional. You have been presented with four proposed statutes. Read each one, and then read the case analyzing a replica statute for constitutionality. Decide whether you should vote for or against the proposed statute if you want to keep your perfect record. Check your answers using the answer key at the end of the chapter.