Understanding Fayetteville’s Panhandling Laws
Panhandling is a fact of life. People who are down on their luck or unable to work may take to busy intersections, shopping malls, or grocery stores to ask the public for money. They may use signs or simply walk up to people and ask for some spare change. Most people have witnessed panhandling at one point.
In some North Carolina cities, recent rules have made the act of handing money to a panhandler illegal in some situations. Fayetteville is one of those cities. If you have been accused of either soliciting money or giving money to a panhandler, read on to learn more.
What Are Anti-Panhandling Laws?
In Fayetteville, the city council has passed an ordinance that makes it illegal to pass money or any other item between an individual in a car and an individual standing on a sidewalk or in the street. In effect, this ordinance makes panhandling to vehicles completely illegal. You may receive a citation if you participate, though a first offense may result in just a warning.
Due to the definition of the crime, organizations, individuals selling items, and individuals advertising car washes on the side of the road could also be charged for this kind of offense.
Why Are These Laws in Place?
Many people in Fayetteville state that they are afraid of aggressive panhandling. Additionally, police officers have cited the risks to pedestrians and drivers who may be distracted by individuals asking for money and other items. Additionally, they cite that they have had problems with traffic moving slowly in areas with higher rates of panhandling.
In 2008, Fayetteville had also passed an ordinance that banned panhandling at specific times and in specific places around the city. For example, individuals are not allowed to panhandle from medians.
Many people have different ideas about why these laws are in place. Some people believe that bans on panhandling may come with the desire to eliminate certain types of people from living in the area, whereas others feel the issue is more linked to safety than anything else. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, being charged with panhandling is not a pleasant experience.
What Is the Punishment for Breaking This Ordinance?
If you are cited with breaking a panhandling-related ordinance, you may not owe any money on a first offense. For the second offense, you may be charged $25, and the third offense means you could face a punishment of $100. Both parties involved may face the same fine, and news reports state that the fines could extend up to $500 with subsequent offenses.
Of course, individuals who are stopped for panhandling may be pulled over. You may feel that you are a victim of entrapment when you are pulled over for this offense, especially if you face additional charges unrelated to the panhandling incident.
Keep in mind that Fayetteville does not cite individuals who panhandle on the sidewalk to other pedestrians on the sidewalk. The current ordinance only targets transactions between people in vehicles and people standing outside.
How Can You Fight These Citations?
One of the best ways to fight citations linked to panhandling is to speak with a criminal defense attorney. You do not have to have these citations on your record, and you may not have to pay these fines. You may find that you have been falsely accused of panhandling or of giving somebody else money.
Carl L. Britt, Jr., Attorney At Law is an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands that sometimes good people are accused of criminal behavior. You do not have to allow others to decide your fate without your input. Call us today to make an appointment for a consultation with a member of our team of professional attorneys.