Prosecution for Telling Police Officers “You Have to Clean Your Damn Dirty Car” Rejected on First Amendment Grounds

This happened in a trial court decision in State v. Elabanjo (N.C. Super. Ct. Jan. 5); the defendant was prosecuted under N.C. Gen. Stat. &sec; 14-197, which makes it a misdemeanor to “on any public road or highway and in the hearing of two or more persons, in a loud and boisterous manner, use indecent or profane language.” The court held the statute was unconstitutionally overbroad and vague on its face, and also that it was unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.

The defendant also “called the officers ‘assholes’ while waving her arms widely,” but the prosecution ultimately did not rely on this, apparently because that word was said “while she was on the sidewalk, and thus was not on a public road or highway.”

Thanks to Prof. Greg Wallace and Matt Quinn for the pointer.

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