Is it legal for people to beg for money?

Panhandlers are posted on the side of many roads asking for money, but are they allowed to be there? On public property, the answer is 'yes' according to the Bakersfield Police Department, as long as they don't bother anyone.

We've all seen panhandlers posted on the side of the road asking for money, but are they allowed to be there? On public property, the answer is 'yes' according to the Bakersfield Police Department, as long as they don't bother anyone.

If they accost someone, maybe get in their face or even ask for money, they could be charged with disorderly conduct.

"We're just out here on the corner trying to get some money for a room," said Nicholas Glaim who stands on a street corner every day holding a sign asking for money. "We've been homeless in our car since a few days before Christmas and we're just trying to make it from day to day."

Glaim said he lost his job as a tattoo artist and since then he hasn't found work, forcing he and his girlfriend to live out of their car. On a good day, the couple will be given $50, and on a bad day nothing.

"They drive by all the time telling me to get a job, get a life, stop lying and stuff like that," said Glaim.

Although some may not like it, since Glaim is on public property, he has a right to be there.

"Unless there's too many complaints then we're kicked out," said Glaim.

According to California Penal Code 647C, "a person is guilty of disorderly conduct...only if the person accosts other persons...for the purpose of begging or soliciting alms." In other words, if they ask someone for money or shove a sign in their face.

"Any person who accosts another individual in a public place or a place that's open to the public, it is illegal to solicit for alms or beg for money," said Michaela Beard, Public Information Officer for the Bakersfield Police Department.

"I get threatened to be arrested all the time," said Glaim. "They tell me one more chance like yesterday at Walmart. He told me he was going to arrest me next time he saw me."

Once Glaim got a ticket for soliciting too close to a freeway. That's against the vehicle code. With a $280 fine, Glaim said he learned his lesson and will be sticking close to spots where it's legal, even though he's bound to get complaints.

"The business owners are the ones who constantly call so it's awful, pretty awful," said Glaim.

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