12/07/04 — Counciil bans aggressive begging

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Counciil bans aggressive begging

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on December 7, 2004 1:55 PM

If you're going to beg in Goldsboro, you'd better do it politely.

The Goldsboro City Council passed an ordinance Monday prohibiting "aggressive panhandling" within the city limits.

Several councilmen said last month that they had received numerous complaints from citizens.

City Attorney Tim Finan told the council that a citizen had a constitutional right to beg, protected by the First Amendment. However, Finan said, that right ended when begging, or panhandling, became aggressive.

Aggressive, as defined in the ordinance, refers to approaching or following a person, physical contact with the person, or abusive language toward someone.

There will be a written warning, issued by Goldsboro law enforcement officers, for a first-time offender. The police will keep a record of the warnings, and a second offense will result in an arrest.

If citizens see someone begging, they can report it to the police. The police will take action if the citizen fills out a formal complaint, identifying the panhandler, the ordinance says.

Finan worked with District Attorney Branny Vickory to draft the ordinance, because he wanted to be sure the document was enforceable and could be prosecuted successfully, he said.