Loitering and Vagrancy Statutes

State and local governments have often sought to eliminate undesirable behavior by enacting statutes and ordinances that make loitering a crime. Many of these statutes have been held to be constitutional, even those that prohibit being in a public place and hindering or obstructing the free passage of people. Such rulings have a significant effect on the rights of assembly, since these crimes involve a person’s presence in a certain place, in addition to suspicious behavior.

A number of courts have held that specific antiloitering statutes and ordinances have been unconstitutional. Some of these decisions are hinged on First Amendment rights, while others hinge on other rights, such as Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Several of these statutes have been struck down on grounds of vagueness or overbreadth. Similarly, courts have struck down statutes and ordinances outlawing vagrancy on the grounds of vagueness or overbreadth.


Inside Loitering and Vagrancy Statutes