Homeless ness is common across the entire country, especially in areas where real estate prices are soaring, according to a report by The Guardian. Sometimes a panhandler is on a street corner, holding up a sign, hoping to grab someone’s attending and kind-heartedness. While many of these folks look like they could really use a break and seem to be in need of a few extra dollars, depending on where you live, it may be in your best legal interest to hold onto your change and move along.
Making Homelessness a Crime
Over the past several years, cities across the country have been passing laws banning homelessness. These laws include prohibition of people living in vehicles, panhandling, and camping in public, among others. This is despite federal efforts to discourage these laws as well as a shortage of affordable housing across the nation. Nevada is one of the states that makes panhandling against the law.
In 2016, as many as 150 homeless people were ordered to stop living on the sidewalks and clear out their belongings. Hawaii, Texas, and Washington state have passed similar anti-homelessness laws. According to the Las Vegas Sun, there were as many as 3,494 individuals identified as homeless by the 2014 Southern Nevada Homeless Census and Survey. In Nevada, along with California, Hawaii and Oregon, more than 50% of the homeless population is categorized as unsheltered. This means these individuals are living in places not fit for humans to stay such as parks, vehicles, or on the streets.
Under Nevada state law, it is prohibited to solicit money from others within 20 feet of a door, ATM or bank, crosswalk, or bus stop. In addition, the law forbids individuals to ask for money in any outdoor or indoor dining area, on the ramps to a freeway, or in a public restroom. In fact, those who give money to the panhandlers are also violating state law in Nevada. Law enforcement officials say stopping traffic to ask for money or give money puts yourself and others in danger, as well.
That being said, most law enforcement officials are sympathetic to the plight of panhandlers and often give them multiple chances. Repeat offenders, however, can not only be cited under state law but may also face jail time. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor offense under Nevada law.
In short, panhandling as well as giving money to someone who is soliciting funds in certain places is illegal in Nevada. Therefore, not only should you avoid panhandling in the state, but you should be wary of handing money over to someone who is asking for help. If you or someone you know has questions about a legal issue in Nevada, contact the skilled attorneys at Parry & Pfau today.
(image courtesy of Toby Wong)