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State v. Rocker

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    Bloomberg Law

    Citation. 52 Haw.336,475 P.2d 684,1970 Haw.

    Brief Fact Summary. Appellants were arrested for indecent exposure for sunbathing nude on a beach accessible to the public. Appellants allege they did not have the requisite intent for the crime.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Criminal intent can be established by some action by which a defendant either draws attention to his exposure or by display in a place so public that it must be presumed it was intended that he be seen by others.


    Facts. Appellants were found guilty of creating a common nuisance. The basis for the action was that Appellants were sunbathing in the nude on a beach occupied by the public. This was alleged to be offensive against common decency and morality. On previous occasions, Appellant Rocker had sunbathed in the nude on the same beach without incident. Sunbathing is not per se illegal but is used as an example of indecent exposure.

    Issue. Whether Appellants possessed the requisite intent for the crime they were convicted of.

    Held. Affirmed, there was enough evidence to justify an inference beyond a reasonable doubt that the beach was so public that Appellant had the requisite intent for creating a common nuisance.
    Intent is an element of the crime of common nuisance defined by the statute. The statute requires general intent, not specific intent.

    Intent may be inferred from the conduct of the accused and the circumstances and environment of the occurrence.

    The criminal intent necessary is usually established by some action by which the defendant either draws attention to his exposed condition or by display in a place so public that it must be presumed it was intended to be seen by others.

    Dissent. The dissent argued that the prosecution failed to show a link between the choice of Appellants to frequent the particular beach and frequency of the public on the beach. The dissent found that there was not sufficient evidence to show that Appellants chose this beach over any other beach because of the public access to it.

    Discussion. The Court ruled that an inference could be made because the beach that Appellants chose to sunbathe nude was a ‘popular place for fisherman’ and that numerous members of the public (20 to 25 individuals) on a given day frequented the beach. The Court noted that there was a well worn path that led from the public road to the beach, which would make it possible for even more of the public to frequent the beach.


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