Are You Sitting in the Park Enjoying the Ambience, or Are You Loitering? What Constitutes Loitering? Why Is It Illegal? … October 25, 2015


Black’s Law Dictionary defines loitering as remaining “in a certain place for no apparent reason.”

The Freedictionary defines loitering:



intr.v. loi·tered, loi·ter·ing, loi·ters


a. To stand idly about; linger without any purpose.

b. Law To violate a law or ordinance that prohibits persons from remaining in a given location without a clear purpose for an extended period of time, especially whenbehaving in a manner indicating a possible threat to persons or property in the vicinity.

2. To hover over or remain near an area: Fog loitered over the mountains. A jet loitered in the sky near the airbase.

3. To proceed slowly or with many stops: loitered all the way home.

4. To act slowly or with leisure; take one’s time: “The organist loitered over the keys, making sure of his mastery of the coming Sabbath anthem” (O. Henry).

Following from

The following is an example of a state loitering statute:

“A person commits the crime of loitering if he:

  1. Loiters, remains or wanders about in a public place for the purpose of begging; or
  2. Loiters or remains in a public place for the purpose of gambling; or
  3. Loiters or remains in a public place for the purpose of engaging or soliciting another person to engage in prostitution or deviate sexual intercourse; or
  4. Being masked, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place; or
  5. Loiters or remains in or about a school, college or university building or grounds after having been told to leave by any authorized official of such school, college or university, and not having any reason or relationship involving custody of or responsibility for a pupil or any other specific, legitimate reason for being there, and not having written permission from a school, college or university administrator; or
  6. Loiters or remains in any transportation facility, unless specifically authorized to do so, for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in any business, trade or commercial transactions involving the sale of merchandise or services; or
  7. Loiters or remains in any place with one or more persons for purpose of unlawfully using or possessing a dangerous drug.”

This is an example of a Massachusetts statute which deals specifically with loitering in areas of public transportation:

“Whoever without right enters, remains in or loiters within a station, waiting room, or terminal of a public transportation facility, or upon the platform, stairs, grounds or other premises of a public transportation facility, after having been forbidden so to do either by notice posted thereon, or by the person who has the lawful control of said premises, or by a railroad, railway or railway express officer or by any police officer, shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars and may be arrested without a warrant by such officer and kept in custody in a convenient place, not more than twenty-four hours, Sundays and legal holidays excepted, at or before the expiration of which time he shall be taken before a proper court or magistrate and proceeded against according to law.”

Our freedoms have been attenuated. You cannot sit in the park after certain hours, you cannot sit even on a bench without suspicions that you are up to something.

My brother and I stopped to eat a bag lunch at a roadside rest years ago and this was too much to bear for a local constable who came up, gun in hand wondering why we were sitting there.

Do not stand and look or think, just move along and be somewhere else, but when you get there, do not stay there, just move along and be somewhere else. Are there any places on this earth where people can go unabated, wander and think without suspicion? Is there any place where you can go and sit that some reprobate will not consider you a public threat? A squirrel, a rat, a stinking skunk, has more freedom to wander than a human being. Don’t be caught at night looking up at the stars some twit will think you are planning some treachery. If you simply must stretch your legs and hike the woods you must look serious in the endeavor or be suspected of some devious thought. Don’t go here, don’t go there, you are not welcome any where. No trespassing, no looking, no thinking allowed. Lock yourself in your house but be sure to send in each day a report of what your activities are therein. 1984 is here, the fallout of 9/11, every dark imagined outcome of big brother and big sister looking over your shoulder at everything you do. Trade your freedom for a bit of security. Die young from the stress of constant surveillance.  Did you break a law? How could you know, there are so many. You ate four crackers instead of the mandatory maximum of three. You have thereby condemned some unknown starving person to yet another meal-less day. You ran over a darting chipmunk and destroyed the environment in the process. In a world gone mad and filled with busybodies yelling at every moment what you should and should not do. If only they would shut up for two seconds perhaps some sanity would return. Every politician shouting they will change things and direct the country to safety, but instead, every elected hypocrite ends up guiding the country on the same course. They’re all the same it seems. Madness reigns. I will go sit in the park, I guess, until someone notices.


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4 Responses to Are You Sitting in the Park Enjoying the Ambience, or Are You Loitering? What Constitutes Loitering? Why Is It Illegal? … October 25, 2015

  1. fred2levins says:

    You wrote, “Don’t be caught at night looking up at the stars some twit will think you are planning some treachery.”

    The following is a true story.

    Increasingly so, with the arrival of LED technology, open areas in the small city of Grand Ledge, Michigan, are becoming illuminated with an intensity that rivals a fireball from the detonation of a nuclear weapon. Therefore, on the night of Thursday, July 9, 2015, I spent time walking out to a stretch of country road about two miles from my apartment in Grand Ledge, Michigan. I had a vintage pair of 7×50 binoculars that I purchased in 1964 with me, which was carried in a white plastic Meijer bag when it wasn’t slung around my neck. I wanted to look at the vicinity of the sky including Sagittarius and Scorpius for prominent Messier objects while checking how bad the light pollution is in that area. The moon had set about hour after sundown and the weather was cooperative. Flourishing vegetation in the surrounding fields filled the air with a delicious aroma. Frogs and crickets provided the only soundtracks.

    There was more light pollution than I expected and noticeable haze in the air, the latter being perhaps from forest fires in Canada. Despite it all, I did manage to see M8, the Lagoon Nebula, and M7, one of the more impressive open (or galactic) star clusters.

    At about 11:30 PM, while I was heading back to my apartment but still in the country on a section of road flanked by fields of young corn plants, I heard the sound of a vehicle completing a turn in the far distance at an intersection where I had been ten minutes earlier, followed by the familiar sound of a vehicle’s engine achieving high RPM’s during acceleration. That is the way law enforcement officers drive in my area, as if they are always in a big hurry and not worried about the cost of gas or upkeep on the vehicle. I didn’t turn around as the vehicle approached, then slowed down and stopped next to me, as I expected. It was a patrol car belonging to the Eaton County Sherriff’s Office.

    I faced the vehicle and heard a deputy say, “Someone called us because they are worried about you. Do you have an ID?”

    I was being questioned by a young female deputy.

    I handed over my Michigan Driver’s License.

    “Ah ha, they say they arrrre wwworrieeedddd aboutttt mmmmeee. Why, I have lost count of all the cars that have seen drive by in the past hour. We differ only in that I am on foot. Granted, though, it is late. By the way, do you know what all these people are doing driving around almost in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, on a weekday evening?”

    “Yes, it is late. What are doing out here?”

    “I am stargazing. Here are my binoculars.” I took them out of the Meijer bag while they were in their case. She didn’t ask me to open the case or raise the possibility that I was a Peeping Tom.

    “What is your name, officer? I might see you again out here.”

    “I am Deputy Studley. Please move in front of the vehicle and stand in the lights.”

    I checked the spelling with her. The surname, which commenced with “stud,” struck me as being distinctly incongruous.

    While I waited, I thought that if I was to be delayed, it was more enjoyable to be stopped by someone who was the opposite of me and perhaps many other deputies: the opposite of old, ugly, and male. In fact, if anything, they ought to hire more deputies like her, and fewer of her opposites. I decided that I better not say anything along those lines. It might be taken the wrong way.

    She got out of her vehicle and returned my ID. I wanted to say something likely to be taken as an agreeable remark. “You know, I am glad that law enforcement is around when I take my nightly walks. When there are no police nearby, there is more crime. For example, do you remember the Loma Prieta Earthquake in California in 1989?” I was going to tell her that people were looting some of the corpses of people that had died in their vehicles when an elevated, multi-level highway collapsed and crushed many cars, killing 60 people.

    “No, I don’t remember. I hadn’t been born yet.”

    So, I was being stopped by a woman in her early-to-mid-20’s.

    “Now I’m starting to get depressed,” I told her.

    “Have a good night, sir.”

  2. drenn1077 says:

    The only comment I might have is concerning your suggestion that there be more female police officers. What with the high incidence of man-hating feminists afoot, I really don’t think that is a very wise thought.
    However, the gist of your comment I feel is indicative of the prevailing attitude these days. No one is considered moral these days, especially men walking at night.

  3. fred2levins says:

    In line with your thinking, I was told by a National Park Service male ranger almost 30 years ago that in the most difficult situations, his experience was that having backup from a male ranger was highly valued.

  4. drenn1077 says:

    Sometimes I wish I’d been born 30 years sooner… but then, I’d be dead by now.

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