Brief Fact Summary. Appellees brought suit challenging Virginia criminal statutes outlawing fornication and cohabitation. Appellees did not allege prosecution or threat thereof, but rather alleged that they had ceased participating in such activities due to fear of prosecution.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. To challenge the validity of a criminal statute the challenging party must show a threat of prosecution under the statute to present a case or controversy.
In evaluating a facial challenge to a state law, a federal court must consider any limiting construction that a state court or enforcement agency has proffered.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Do appellees have standing to challenge Virginia statutes criminalizing fornication and cohabitation when recent history demonstrates that such laws have not been enforced?
Held. Appellees lack sufficient standing to challenge such statutes
According to United States Supreme Court precedent, one must show a threat of prosecution under a criminal statute in order to present a case or controversy. Subjective fear of prosecution does not establish an objective threat. To address this issue would result in an abstract debate better suited for the legislature.
Discussion. Because the appellees did not allege that they had either been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution under the statutes, they lacked standing.