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PC 647c California Panhandling Laws in California

PC 647c: California Panhandling

Legal Definition: PC 647c: “Every person who willfully and maliciously obstructs the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk, or other public place or on or in any place open to the public is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

What does this mean?

Panhandling, commonly known as confrontational begging or soliciting for alms, is prohibited by law in California. The objective of this legislation is to address situations involving direct and persistent solicitation, which may include approaches that encompass elements of intimidation, harassment, or threats. It is crucial to note that individuals peacefully requesting financial assistance by displaying signage on the street are not subject to this legal provision. The primary focus of this statute is on individuals who aggressively target others with solicitation for money or handouts. It is important to maintain an understanding of the distinction between active and passive forms of solicitation, as passive approaches typically align with protected rights under the First Amendment.

Moreover, it is essential to recognize that these regulations solely pertain to public spaces, encompassing thoroughfares, public transportation vehicles, parks, and communal parking areas. Private properties, specifically individuals’ residences, fall outside the purview of these regulations, as panhandling is generally not observed within the confines of privately owned locations, unless an invitation is extended to the person.


A violation under PC 647c is a misdemeanor-only offense in California, instead of a felony or infraction offense. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to one year in County Jail. You would have to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You could also face fines up to $1,000, as well as a stay-away order from the property you were convicted of panhandling in.

This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you could face Deportation in Immigration Court if you were to receive multiple misdemeanor convictions.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence
  4. Coerced Confessions

Failing to show that you were aggressively panhandling can act as a defense to this charge. An individual simply sitting on a road with a sign or a cup, asking for money, would be passive at best. Here, you would be able to show that you were not trying to harass or intimidate anyone, and cannot be found guilty of panhandling. Failing to show that you were harassing anyone, would mean that there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of the crime.

Also, if police act in violation of your rights, your attorney can argue that the police did an illegal search and seizure, and evidence of your panhandling would be suppressed, meaning your case could possibly be dropped. Here, the argument to be made is the police made unlawful contact with you, such as an illegal arrest that violates your rights. If that were to happen, then your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney can argue that the illegal arrest means your case should be dismissed or reduced, based on unlawful police contact.

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Facing a conviction under sections like PC 647(e) can have a devastating impact on your life. Such a charge can lead to custodial sentencing, loss of freedom, a lasting criminal record, and significant financial penalties. These consequences can become even more challenging for those already facing issues like securing permanent residence, further complicating their life circumstances.

Navigating these complex legal waters requires the skill and expertise of a seasoned attorney. At Inland Empire Defense, our Ontario PC 647(e) attorney brings extensive experience in defending individuals across Southern California, including Ontario. Our commitment to your case goes beyond just representation in court; we understand the broader implications a conviction can have on your life and work diligently to protect your interests.

For those seeking reliable and experienced legal representation, we encourage you to reach out to our team. Contact your trusted Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney at Inland Empire Defense. Call us at 909-939-7126. Conveniently located in Ontario, we are here to offer you the support, guidance, and expert legal counsel you need during this challenging time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Does the attorney offer confidential consultations?

Absolutely, Inland Empire Criminal Defense prioritizes your privacy and confidentiality. Every consultation with our attorney is conducted with the utmost discretion, ensuring your information remains secure and private.

Does the attorney offer payment plans?

Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Is the consultation free?

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Are the consultations in person or only over the phone?

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Is the office open on weekends?

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Does the attorney serve all of California?

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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