06/16/13 — City has no rule against begging

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City has no rule against begging

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on June 16, 2013 1:50 AM

Panhandling is not illegal in the city of Goldsboro.

There is no law that says someone cannot sit or stand beside a street or highway and ask for money.

But city officials say asking for a handout does break the law if the panhandler becomes aggressive in his or her tactics, approaching cars or people to ask for money or not taking no for an answer.

"We've had complaints saying people are walking up to the cars or that they got a little hostile if the person says no," said James Rowe with the city inspections department.

Rowe said that is when the police are called out to deal with the panhandlers.

If a panhandler asks repeatedly for money or holds up traffic, that would also constitute aggressive begging.

"We had a problem with a group last year that was standing in the median, and after we got a complaint, we called the police." Rowe said. "They left after police went out."

If a complaint is registered with the police or city about a panhandler, such as was done against a group of panhandlers set up on Berkeley Boulevard May 30, then the person or group will be issued a warning citation by police and told to stop the activity.

"If the person is seen a second time, then they are issued a citation," said Maj. Al King with the Goldsboro Police Department.

From December 2010 to December 2012, 10 citations were written for aggressive panhandling in Goldsboro.

The group operating May 30 was Charlotte-based Miracle House of Hope, advertised as a free intervention program that provides housing and food for the needy.

A collector who refused to give her name said the group drives around collecting money for the house five to six days a week. The program claims to teach job training and life skills to its participants.

She said she was in Tennessee collecting money the day before and had been in Myrtle Beach and Charleston recently.

The group left the intersection after a complaint was received by the Inspections Department, which in turn called police.

The listed purpose for the aggressive begging ordinance is to ensure the unimpeded flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic and to foster a harassment free environment in the city of Goldsboro.

According to the law, no arrest is made for an initial violation. However, if an officer warns the panhandler and they fail to cease the aggressive behavior, they are to be immediately arrested.

Wayne County does not have an ordinance regulating or prohibiting panhandling.

Raleigh adopted an ordinance requiring a permit to panhandle on public streets or public property.

The permits are valid for one year's time and shall be issued unless an applicant provides false information on their application or has a prior conviction for panhandling violations.

The maximum penalty for a panhandling charge is a $500 fine and a maximum of 30 days imprisonment.

The law in Raleigh makes very clear where panhandlers may not beg even with a permit prohibiting begging near banks or ATMs or begging while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Johnston County also has a county ordinance against panhandling similar to Raleigh's but does not require a permit, only that the beggar acts within the scope of the ordinance listed under Chapter 16-4 under offenses and miscellaneous provisions.