What are the Kentucky Loitering Laws?
Loitering is something that is perceived as harmless and as an act that should be the last to get criminalized. It just seems like something you would do if you were bored and had nothing to do, or if you were waiting for someone at a street corner. None of these acts look like they should be criminalized, or should attract the attention of the authorities. However, loitering has a dangerous angle to it and a person with the wrong intentions could very well turn this into an illegal act.
Loitering laws have been the buzz word in the debate world for a long time. Most loitering laws give law enforcement officials excess and discretionary power to disperse crowds if they feel that their loitering is a threat to public order or to any person in particular. The opponents to such laws argue that they give too much power in the hands of officers and this curtails the right to movement of persons which is enshrined in the first amendment of the US constitution.
Loitering laws have also been criticized for discriminating against certain groups. For example, homeless loitering laws enable law enforcement to disperse the homeless who might just be wanting some shelter. On the other hand, these laws also act like a tough deterrent against such persons who might want to disturb the public order and/or engage in unlawful activities. This fine balance is always at the end of scrutiny and must be delicately maintained.
Kentucky laws dictate several different instances where a person might be found to be engaging in loitering. It states that a person would be found guilty of loitering if the person is found to be engaging in gambling, or any other gambling paraphernalia. However, it does go on to state that this does not include charitable gambling. The statute also says that a person found loitering in a school, university, college campus or grounds without having any affiliation to a student or a pupil, and not possessing a letter of authorization either.
This type of loitering may be harmful especially if there is any danger to the students. Loitering laws in Kentucky also state that a person will be found guilty of loitering if he is found to be using a controlled substance. It also goes on to state about loitering in case of transportation facilities, if he has not been authorized to carry out a trade or a business in such premises.
The statute also goes on to state what constitutes a transportation facility and a public place. A transportation facility may be premises or a place that is connected to the railroad, transportation by air, roads, etc. It also gives out the information about public places by saying that it should be a place which a person or a group of persons have access to, such as highways, amusement parks, parks, transportation facilities, playgrounds, hallways, lobbies, etc. This list, however, is not exhaustive and therefore is not limited to the places mentioned in the statute.
In most jurisdictions, the punishment for these cases is not that severe, depending on the circumstances. Punishment for loitering in the State of Kentucky only constitutes a violation and in most cases involves only a petty fine. However if the person who is guilty of loitering is found to be engaging in activity that may pose a threat to social order and to someone's life, serious action may be taken. Loitering laws may be enacted for a certain purpose, for example in Chicago they were enacted to curb gang activities.