Loitering is not a Penal Code Section that is used that often, but when it's used, it's used by the police because someone is basically lurking in an area where they're not supposed to be. A lot of times, in order to get hit with a loitering charge in Los Angeles and criminally prosecuted, they're going to have to give you a warning that you cannot loiter in a certain area.
Prohibiting Staying in a Specific Area
You can't stay in a certain area, peek in a certain area or wander in a certain area. So, the loitering charge pursuant to Penal Code Section 647 really has to do with trying to protect a certain area so that people cannot go there and get themselves in a position where they can cause trouble to people.
I was just in one of the courthouses in Los Angeles – in one of the civil courthouses actually – and it had a no loitering sign and they were using Penal Code Section 647.
Basically, what they're trying to do is keep people away from the courtroom doors because they have a lot of business and activity going on there and they don't want people to be able to stand there and maybe intimidate other people.
Other areas where I see loitering issues that are prevalent where people are actually getting prosecuted in the Los Angeles area when they're near some dark area.
Maybe the police are concerned that if they don't put a No Loitering sign, drug activity can go on in that location because it's out of view of the public. Other crimes can be committed there that they don't want so they'll put that No Loitering sign there.
I would think they would put the No Loitering sign, then prosecute and arrest people when it's near businesses that don't want certain unsavory characters around their business.
Avoiding a Conviction
So, if you're charged with loitering, it is an uncommon charge and a lot of times what I can do if I've got a loitering charge in Los Angeles in one of the courts is try to work out some sort of resolution where either the case is dismissed outright or there is some sort of diversionary tact taken on the case where the person doesn't end up with any conviction.
Loitering is not the crime of the century, but nobody wants to be charged with any type of a crime. So, if you're charged with a violation of Penal Code Section 647 or any of the other loitering or prowling-related offenses, you should get with an attorney immediately.
Let them handle it for you so you can end up with a result that doesn't stay on your criminal record and so that you're protected, so when you try to get a job or your background is read, you don't have this arrest or conviction for a loitering charge on your criminal record.
Now, if you have a loitering charge and it relates to any type of sexual activity, if they believe you're loitering for the purposes of doing something with regard to minors or anybody else, that's obviously a lot more serious and that's something that is going to be more difficult to deal with and you're definitely going to want to get an attorney who has dealt with this type of loitering charges and had success.
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