State v. Berry

In State v. Berry, 101 Ariz. 310, 313, 419 P.2d 337, 340 (1966), the Arizona Supreme Court considered whether this statutory language was unconstitutionally vague or "inexplicit." The court suggested the statute's use of the word "molests" to describe the proscribed contact was ambiguous on its face. Id. But, applying principles of statutory interpretation, the court concluded the statute was constitutional. Id. It first identified the legislature's purpose in enacting such a criminal statute: "the protection of the young from improper advances." Id. Next, the court observed that the statute specified several "easily recognized acts which combined with a necessary intent constitute a violation." Id. at 313, 419 P.2d at 340. Although finding the "statute failed to expressly state a necessary element of intent or scienter," the court determined: "'When the words annoy or molest are used in reference to offenses against children, there is a connotation of abnormal sexual motivation on the part of the offender.'" Id. The court reasoned that, because this implied element of intent narrowed the scope of conduct punishable under the statute, it was not impermissibly vague or overbroad. Id.