Is Panhandling Legal? Should you Give Panhandlers Money?
I can’t imagine anybody who lives in Phoenix hasn’t noticed the rapid increase of street corner panhandlers or beggars since 2012. It’s not uncommon to see four tattered cardboard sign holders asking for money at freeway accesses and high density intersections. They’re everywhere, young and old, women, men, women with children, and some even have dogs with them.
Defining these lost souls as either panhandlers or beggars is a tough call. We could just call them homeless, but, I’ve definitely questioned that scenario, at least to some degree. To make it simple, all three walks of life share the same agenda in order to survive… begging for handouts. Hardworking Americans who are hanging on to the hope of a better economy are throwing money at these street corner fixtures as a gesture of kindness. But I wonder, at the end of the day, if a panhandler’s pockets might just be holding a bigger stash of cash than ours.
Where are the handouts going? Food? In my opinion, maybe… but it’s probably more often paying for drug addictions. Seems a little weird that so many of the young people have no teeth, I question that big time. Now you’re probably thinking that perhaps food is a better donation. Good idea, except that just allows panhandlers to save whatever money they have to fulfill their life destroying addictions.
Something to Ponder…
Are some street corner panhandlers really homeless or just choosing to make a living with a piece of cardboard and a marker? I’m seeing good haircuts, decent clothes, good sneakers, and to be polite… some look like they’ve never missed a meal in their entire life.
Is Panhandling Legal in Arizona?
Here’s what the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona has to say…
Panhandling and Solicitation
Panhandling or “solicitation” is asking a person for money or
asking them to buy goods or services from you. You can solicit
verbally (by asking out loud) or with a sign. In most parts of the
City of Phoenix, solicitation is legal. However, “aggressive
solicitation” is illegal in all parts of Phoenix. You commit
aggressive solicitation if you do one or more of the following
things while you are soliciting someone:
• You continue soliciting the other person, from a distance
of 10 feet or less, after they verbally ask you to
• You touch the person without their consent.
• You follow the person in a way that intimidates them or
makes them fear bodily harm.
• You physically block the person’s path, or make them
change their path or the path of their vehicle, in order to
avoid running into you.
• You use obscene or abusive language or gestures with the person.
• You solicit the person within 15 feet of an ATM or the
entrance or exit of a bank.
• You solicit the person on a bus, on a train, or within 10
feet of a bus or train stop.
• You verbally solicit the person at night.
There is an important exception to the part of the
law which bans soliciting at night. You may stand, sit, or
perform music in a public place at night with a sign that
However, you may not verbally request money from people
while you are soliciting at night, except if they speak to you first.
Additionally, the City of Phoenix has made “soliciting from a
vehicle” illegal. This means that you may not stand
on or next to a street or highway and solicit employment,
business or contributions from occupants of any vehicle.
Penalty: Aggressive solicitation and soliciting from a vehicle are class 1 misdemeanors.