The Reasoning of the Court for Rejecting An Argument That Simple Criminal Child Abuse Statute Was Unconstitutional

In State v. Joyce, 361 So. 2d 406, 407 (Fla. 1978), the Court rejected an argument that the simple criminal child abuse statute was unconstitutional, reasoning: Appellees contend that the county courts' invalidation of Section 827.04(2), Florida Statutes (1975), is consistent with our decision in State v. Winters, 346 So. 2d 991 (Fla. 1977). There, Section 827.05, Florida Statutes (1975), which criminalized "negligent treatment of children," was declared unconstitutionally vague, indefinite and overbroad. Our decision in Winters, however, does not support the determination of the county courts that Section 827.04(2), the child abuse statute, is unconstitutional. The basis for our holding there was that the negligent treatment statute made criminal acts of simple negligence--conduct which was neither willful nor culpably negligent. Section 827.04(2), in contrast, requires willfulness (scienter) or culpable negligence. The Winters Court was careful to distinguish Section 827.04(2) on this basis. As the court concluded in upholding Section 784.05, Florida Statutes (1975), the culpable negligence statute, the term "culpable negligence" does not suffer from the constitutional infirmity of vagueness. See State v. Greene, 348 So. 2d 3 (Fla. 1977). . . . the requirement of willfulness (scienter) or culpable negligence in Section 827.04(2), therefore, avoids the infirmity found in Winters with respect to Section 827.05 that unintentional acts or conduct which is not the product of culpable negligence might be proscribed by the statute. 361 So. 2d at 406.