Vague Law Consequences In New York

In People v. Santos, 182 Misc.2d 764, 700 N.Y.S.2d 381, the Court said: "In Grayned v. City of Rockford, (408 U.S. 104, 108-109, 33 L. Ed. 2d 222, 92 S. Ct. 2294), the Supreme Court delineated the standards for determining whether a statute was vague: "Vague laws offend several important values. First, because we assume that man is free to steer between lawful and unlawful conduct, we insist that laws give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly. Vague laws may trap the innocent by not providing fair warning. Second if arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement is to be prevented, laws must provide explicit standards for those who apply them. A vague law impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application." Thus, a legislative enactment must inform the average person fair notice that his or her action is forbidden by law and may not engender arrest, prosecutions, and convictions that are arbitrary and erratic. Legislation that does not meet these standards is unconstitutionally vague ( Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 156, 31 L. Ed. 2d 110, 92 S. Ct. 839: People Bright, 71 N.Y.2d 376, 526 N.Y.S.2d 66, 520 N.E.2d 1355)." id., p.722.