Johnson v. Florida
391 U.S. 596 (1968)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. Florida, 391 U.S. 596 (1968)

Johnson v. Florida

No. 1393, Misc.

Decided June 3, 1968

391 U.S. 596



Appellant, found by officers at 4:25 a.m. sitting on a bench at a bus stop, was charged with violating a Florida vagrancy law making it a misdemeanor to be found "wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object." An officer testified concerning information which appellant had supplied, including the fact that he was on probation which had a 10 p.m. curfew and his whereabouts before arriving at the bus stop, where appellant said he had waited for a bus for some three hours. The record does not show how he got to the bus stop. Appellant's motion for a directed verdict was denied, the defense presented no evidence, appellant was convicted, and the Florida Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: The fact that appellant was out long after the curfew hour of his probation may be held to establish the no "lawful purpose or object" ingredient of the offense, but the judgment cannot stand, since there was no evidence establishing the "wandering or strolling" ingredient. Thompson v. Louisville,362 U. S. 199.

202 So.2d 852, reversed.


Appellant was charged with violating a Florida vagrancy statute, Fla.Stat. § 856.02, which makes it a misdemeanor to be found "wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object."

Officer Havens testified that he and Officer Carani were patrolling the Bird Road area of Dade County at about 4:25 a.m. when they saw appellant seated on a bench at a bus stop. The officers stopped and asked him why

Page 391 U. S. 597

he was there. He replied that he was waiting for a bus. Havens told him that the last Bird Road bus had run at 11 p.m., and that buses did not resume service until 7 a.m. Havens then asked him where he had been. He said he had been to a theatre (which was about two miles away), and afterwards had gone to the house of his girlfriend, Joyce, who lived near the theatre.

On Havens' request, appellant supplied identification which showed he was age 18 and lived in that area of the county.

Havens then asked him if he had ever been in trouble with the law. He replied that he was on probation from a breaking and entering charge and had a 10 p.m. curfew. He was then asked to account for his whereabouts from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. He explained that he got out of the movie about 10:30 or 10:45, went to Joyce's house, and after leaving her place, and reaching the bus stop had waited some three hours for a bus. The officers did not discuss with appellant the means or manner by which he got to the bus stop from the theatre and Joyce's house, and the record does not supply that information. Appellant apparently had phoned for a cab after waiting on the bench two or three hours for a bus. Havens asked appellant how much money he had on his person. Appellant said he had 70

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