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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