Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why so many panhandling cases get dismissed

When lawyers actually take the time to challenge citations given to homeless people, most of them are dismissed.

Citations for so-called "quality of life" violations (things like panhandling and open containers of alcohol) are issued every day by police, but in many cities they're rarely reviewed to see if there really is evidence against the alleged violator.

In San Francisco, volunteer attorneys have been challenging such citations and demanding, for example, that a police report set out the basis of the charge. And with just this minimal defense, most of the cases -- roughly 85% -- are being dismissed.

Read the San Francisco Chronicle article here.

I'm not suggesting that the laws shouldn't be enforced. But if someone is charged with a crime, the evidence against them has to be presented.


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