Loitering (pronEng|ˈlɔɪtərɪŋ is an intransitive verb meaning to stand idly, to stop numerous times, or to delay and procrastinate.

Prohibition and History

Loitering may be prohibited by local governments in several countries. Loitering prohibitions are particularly common in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, although they are used throughout the world.

Loitering laws are often tracked back to late 15th century English common law.

Legal issues

Local areas vary on the degree to which police are empowered to arrest loiterers; limitations on their power are sometimes made over concerns regarding racial profiling.

In Jamaica the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal regarding a case of loitering near a playground by a man convicted of child abuse. (see R. v. Heywood).

However in Minneapolis for example, loitering on public property is not actually a crime. [ [http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crime-reporting/loitering.asp Report Loitering] ]

In 1992, the City of Chicago adopted an anti-loitering law ( [http://www.abanet.org/publiced/youth/fall99chicago.html Chicago Municipal Code 8-4-015 (1992)] ) aimed at restricting gang related activity, especially violent crime and drug trafficking. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2194/is_9_68/ai_56750218 Gang Congregation Ordinance: Supreme Court Invalidation] ] The law, which defined loitering as "remain(ing) in any one place with no apparent purpose", gave police officers a right to disperse such persons and in case of disobedience, provided for a punishment by fine, imprisonment and/or community service. It was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States ("Chicago v. Morales", ussc|527|41|1999) as unacceptably vague and not giving citizens clear guidelines on what the acceptable conduct was. In 2000, the city adopted a [http://www.crfc.org/gangs.html revised version of the ordinance] , eliminating the unconstitutional elements. Loitering was then defined as "remaining in any one place under circumstances that would warrant a reasonable person to believe that the purpose or effect of that behavior is to enable a criminal street gang to establish control over identifiable areas, to intimidate others from entering those areas, or to conceal illegal activities"

In Portland, Oregon a wide range of measures have been enacted to tackle loitering and related issues. [http://www2.co.multnomah.or.us/cfm/da/NDAP/index.cfm?fuseaction=strategies&menu=37&title=loitering]

Discriminatory history

Although loitering laws date back to 16th Century England, in the United States they have long been used for expressly racist purposes. After the Civil War they were used in conjunction with vagrancy laws to reinforce a state of quasi-slavery for African Americans in the South ["Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review". Volume 37.] . During the Civil Rights era, they were used to break up protests (by arresting the protesters), and were used on at least one occasion to prevent court testimony by Martin Luther King, Jr. (who was arrested for loitering in the courthouse) [Hendrickson, Paul. "Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy". Alfred A. Knopf. New York: 2003.] .

ee also

* Crime
* Gang violence
* The Mosquito


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • loitering — index truant Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 loitering …   Law dictionary

  • loitering — mid 14c., verbal noun from LOITER (Cf. loiter) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Loitering — Loiter Loi ter, v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Loitered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Loitering}.] [D. leuteren to delay, loiter; cf; Prov. G. lottern to be louse, lotter louse, slack, unsettled, vagrant, OHG. lotar.] 1. To be slow in moving; to delay; to linger; to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • loitering — AmE loitering with in.tent, BrE law noun (U) the offence of staying in a place for a long time without having any reason to be there, so that it seems as if you are going to do something illegal …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • loitering — Being dilatory; standing around or spending one s time idly. State v Badda, 97 W Va 417, 125 SE 159. Idling or lounging upon a street or other public way, especially in such manner or to such an extent as to interfere with or annoy travelers. 25… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • loitering — noun The action of the verb …   Wiktionary

  • loitering — Synonyms and related words: Micawberish, backward, coquetry, dabbling, dalliance, dallying, dawdling, delaying, dilatoriness, dilatory, dillydallying, dolce far niente, dragging, easygoing, fiddling, flirtation, fooling, fooling around, foot… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • loitering — loi|ter|ing [ lɔıtərıŋ ] noun uncount the offense of standing or waiting in a public place, so that it looks as if you might commit a crime …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • loitering — n. act of passing the time aimlessly, wasting of time, dawdling loi·ter || lɔɪtÉ™(r) v. idle about; lag behind; waste time; hang about …   English contemporary dictionary

  • loitering — a. Dilatory, lingering …   New dictionary of synonyms

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