Legal News

Sixth Circuit Rules Unconstitutional Michigan Law that Makes Begging a Crime
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that an old Michigan law criminalizing begging is unconstitutional and violates free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. The court upheld the decision by a lower court holding it was wrong to arrest people or issue them tickets for begging in Grand Rapids.

Just between 2008 and 2011, the court found, 211 people had been jailed and 399 arrested for begging for food or change.

  
What
Where


Writing for the panel, Judge Boyce Martin observed, “Michigan’s interest in preventing fraud can be better served by a statute that, instead of directly prohibiting begging, is more narrowly tailored to the specific conduct, such as fraud, that Michigan seeks to prohibit.

In the instant case, law enforcement in Grand Rapids arrested two homeless men, James Speet and Ernest Sims for begging.

In January 2011, the police arrested Speet for standing on the sidewalk holding a sign “Cold and Hungry, God Bless.” Speet received an appearance ticket; pleaded guilty; was unable to pay the $198 fine imposed upon him, and spent four days in jail.

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!




Five months later, Speet was again picked up holding a sign “Need Job, God bless,” standing between a sidewalk and a street. This time Speet received pro bono counsel, and the prosecution dismissed the begging charge.

Again in 2011, Ernest Sims was seen asking a pedestrian for bus fare: “Can you spare a little change?” Grand Rapids police immediately arrested the homeless veteran.



The court observed, “After Sims, a veteran, requested that he not be taken to jail, because it was the Fourth of July, the officer agreed to give him an appearance ticket. Later Sims appeared without counsel in court on the begging charge. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $100.”

The ACLU took up the cause leading to the anti-begging law being declared unconstitutional in Michigan.

However, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Bill Schuette told the media that the ruling is under review, and Schuette’s office does not believe begging is a protected form of free speech.



 

Interesting Legal Sites You May Like


BCG FEATURED JOB

Locations:

Keyword:



Search Now

Mid-level Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-MD-Baltimore

Baltimore office of our client seeks mid-level litigation associate attorney with 3+ years of experi...

Apply Now

Litigation Associate Attorney

USA-SC-Columbia

Columbia office is seeking a commercial litigation attorney with 2-4 years of experience.

Apply Now

Junior Employment Litigation Attorney

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office is seeking an attorney with 2-3 years of employment litigation, class action or...

Apply Now

Senior Leveraged Finance Attorney

USA-NY-New York City

New York City office is seeking a senior leveraged finance attorney with 12+ years of experience. Ca...

Apply Now

RELEVANT JOBS

Social Security Legal Assistant - Immediate Opening!

USA-PA-Scranton

Scranton-based workers comp, social security, and personal injury law office is seeking a social sec...

Apply now

Nurse Paralegal

USA-NY-New York City

McGivney, Kluger & Cook\'s New York City office seeks a nurse paralegal to join our team! Respons...

Apply now

Associate Attorney

USA-NY-New York City

Law firm seeks associate that must be admitted to practice law in New York  to attend Civil cou...

Apply now

Director of Enforcement

USA-PA-Philadelphia

DIRECTOR OF ENFORCEMENT POSITION AVAILABLE The Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsyl...

Apply now

SEARCH IN ARCHIVE

To Top