Close Menu X
Platt Hopwood Russell & Cole PLLC Serving Brevard County and Florida's Space Coast Region
We are here to help. Start with a free consultation.
321-725-5638 | 800-479-3032

1984 crime law deemed by Supreme Court to contain vague language

Although Florida officials may take a tough stance on crime, those facing legal action are entitled to proper interpretation of the laws used to make decisions about their cases. Vague language can create confusion as officials in different jurisdictions make different decisions based on their unique perspectives. This concern has even affected the Supreme Court of the United States in recent years as the Armed Career Criminal Act, a 1984 federal law, has led to challenges in interpreting a vague phrase. In fact, Justice Alito was the only dissenting vote in the 8-1 decision that deemed the phrase to be unconstitutional because of its vagueness.

In writing the decision for the court, Justice Scalia indicated that the phrase could lead to inappropriate criminalizing of some behaviors. Although the Deputy Solicitor General argued in defense of the law, noting that nearly 20 specific offenses have been defined by judges in lower courts, the Supreme Court justices noted that prior convictions could be treated as violent even if no violence had occurred.

The court is typically viewed as being tough on crime. In fact, two of the justices noted that the law was not specifically responsible for the ruling. However, the rights of those with criminal records were upheld as the justices ruled that vague language left room for abuse by officials. Although a judge may not be sympathetic to an individual who has a record of prior serious offenses, there is a legal responsibility to observe that person's rights when interpreting and applying the law.

An individual who has been convicted and sentenced based on potentially incorrect interpretations of the law might seek an opportunity to appeal. A criminal defense lawyer in such a case might work on researching the laws and evidence used to achieve the conviction or issue the sentence, seeking areas that may have left room for interpretation or bias to affect the decision.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Get Started With A Free Case Consultation

Contact us by email or call us at 321-725-5638, toll free at 800-479-3032. We will get you through this.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Email Us For A Response

175 East NASA Blvd., Suite 300
Melbourne, FL 32901

Toll Free: 800-479-3032
Phone: 321-725-5638
Fax: 321-725-4405
Melbourne Law Office Map

Review Us
Visa | Mastercard | American Express | Discover Network