MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The city of Memphis wants to crack down on panhandling with a tougher ordinance against offenders. But what kind of punishment do offenders really get?
The ordinance does not specifically ban all panhandling everywhere, but it does place a list of restrictions on the activity.
For instance, the ordinance does not outlaw the act of standing passively with a sign, as long as it does not specifically address one person.
The ordinance outlaws what's described as "abusive solicitation," which includes seven different characteristics:
- Coming within three feet of a person, or about an arm's length
- Blocking passage
- Threatening physical harm
- Using abusive words intended to provoke
- Panhandling in prohibited places, which are all spelled out in the ordinance.
The ordinance makes certain types of panhandling a misdemeanor crime. So, in order to prosecute, an law officer must witness the activity, or someone must file a formal complaint.
Anyone caught begging for money improperly could face arrest, jail time, and/or monetary fines.