The Lake Havasu City Police Department has received questions recently related to panhandling and would like to provide the following information:
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that a person’s right to ask another for money is protected free speech under the First Amendment. An individual cannot be arrested for simply asking for money.
However, in July 2015 Senate Bill 1094 titled “Aggressive Solicitation” was signed into state law and put restrictions on panhandling and soliciting. It is unlawful for a person to solicit any money or other things of value within fifteen feet of any bank entrance or exit, or any automated teller machine without permission from the bank or the owner of the property. The law also prohibits the following in a public area:
- Intentionally making any physical contact or touching another person in the course of the solicitation without the person’s consent.
- Approaching or following a person in such a way that a reasonable person would fear imminent bodily harm or intimidation to oneself or another, or damage to or loss of property.
- Continuing to solicit the person after the person being solicited has clearly communicated for it to stop.
- Obstructing the safe or free passage of the person being solicited or requiring the person to take evasive action to avoid physical contact with the person making the solicitation.
- Using obscene or abusive language or gestures that would cause a reasonable person to fear imminent bodily harm or intimidation.
A public area is legally defined in Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) 13-2914 in part as an area that the public has access to including parking lots, playgrounds, sidewalks and streets open to the general public. The full context of the law, A.R.S. 13-2914 can be located at www.azleg.gov
The Lake Havasu City Police Department will respond and investigate any report of a state law violation and comply with every person’s clearly established rights under the United States and Arizona Constitutions.