Throughout U.S. history, certain laws have made it illegal to be a homeless person. After the Civil War, many of these laws were directed towards African-American homeless, who were taken off to work camps when unable to pay the fine associated with the crime of being vagrant, or without a home. Vagrancy laws were mostly abolished in the 1960s after they were finally seen as being unconstitutional (in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment). However, law enforcement still targets the homeless population with other misdemeanor offenses such as loitering, public urination, public intoxication, and other minor offenses. Homeless people are easy targets for law enforcement because the homeless often do not always have the resources, nor the mindset, to stand up for themselves and demand their rights. Much of society has a cold, heartless opinion of the homeless as well, and many of these business or home owners are the very people that called the police in the first place, putting pressure on the local law enforcement agency to “do something about the problem.” The charges that many homeless people face are entirely unfounded or even unconstitutional. If you have been unfairly singled out because you are homeless and you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, you need legal representation immediately.
Common Types of Charges that Homeless People Face
In the 1972 case of Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, the court found that the city’s longstanding anti-vagrancy law was vague and unconstitutional. It “encourages arbitrary and erratic arrests and convictions, it makes criminal activities that, by modern standards, are normally innocent, and it places almost unfettered discretion in the hands of the police.” Despite the abolition of this and other laws that attack the homeless, houseless people are still being squeezed out of many cities, including West Palm Beach, with other types of legal pressure. Common charges that West Palm Beach homeless people face include:
- Disorderly conduct in public;
- Public urination;
- Public intoxication;
- Open container of alcohol in public;
- Anti-camping or sleeping law violations;
- Prostitution; and
- Petit theft.
Many of these violations can lead to large fines and jail time. Contact a lawyer at once if you have been charged with any misdemeanor or felony, whether you are homeless or not.
Call Skier Law Firm For Legal Assistance Today
There were 1,421 families and individuals in Palm Beach County in 2015 that did not have a home, according to the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County. Furthermore, Palm Beach County is ranked number two in the state for children living in spaces not designed for human habitation. Florida and the U.S. have turned a cold shoulder to war veterans, the disabled, and those with mental and mood disorders. To make the matter worse, law enforcement unfairly picks on the homeless population of West Palm Beach.
If you were charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, call the West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys of the Skier Law Firm today at (561) 220-3355. We are eager to help you with your case.