Just Don’t Do It! – Don’t Hang Around Without Reason! ©

I have been practicing law for many years in Metropolitan Atlanta and have come to learn of people who have gotten arrested for violating the state and federal laws in a number of ways.  Many crimes are committed by persons who are intending on doing wrong.  Then there are some who just don’t know the law and make a wrong decision that could lead to their arrest and land them in prison. No one plans to be arrested.  It can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.

Are you prepared to deal with that life changing moment?  Do you know enough about the law to keep you from getting arrested?  Children get arrested too.  You can’t be with your child at all times.  Are you prepared to educate your child on how to avoid a situation that could result in their arrest?  Typically, you can avoid getting arrested if you follow basic human ethics of respecting others personal privacy and property.  Do onto your neighbor as you would have him to do onto you. Let’s think about what you will do and not do if you ever hear the phrase, “Put your hands behind you.”  This is my tip on a particular situation that you should avoid or should precede with caution to avoid the possibility of getting arrested. — Just Don’t Do It!

It is not a good idea to hang around in the parking lot of business where it is not the practice of that business to have its customers socializing or just posting up for no legitimate reason.  A person commits the offense of loitering or prowling when he is in a place at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.  The circumstances of your actions when approached by a law enforcement officer could determine your fait on this charge.  Among the circumstances which may be considered in determining whether alarm is warranted is the fact that you took flight upon the appearance of law enforcement officer, refused to identify yourself, or manifestly endeavor to conceal yourself or any object.  If you don’t take flight and stick around to speak with the police then you have the right to give reason for your presence in that parking lot. By law, if you are approached by a police officer and asked to identify yourself then you are required to do so.  A law enforcement officer shall, prior to placing you under arrest for this offense, afford you an opportunity to dispel any alarm or immediate concern which would otherwise be warranted by requesting you to identify yourself and explain your presence and conduct.  You could avoid a conviction for loitering or prowling if the officer failed to comply with the foregoing procedure or if it appears at trial that the explanation given by you was true and would have dispelled the alarm or immediate concern.  Now, if you are in place that you have no reason for being there then you could very well be convicted of loitering or prowling.   Hanging out on someone else’s private property without a justifiable reason is just not a good idea.  If the police show up, don’t run or take flight, be sure to identify yourself, and have a legitimate reason for being there.  The best practice is to just stay away from places where you have no business.  JUST DON’T DO IT!

Attorney Emerson Carey, Jr. has been a trial lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia for over 21 years. He is an adjunct professor at Emory University School of law where he teaches trial advocacy. Attorney Carey can be reached at 404-635-1112, 1-877-635-1112, and ecarey@careydobson.com.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to be legal advice and does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  Every criminal prosecution is based on its individual facts and requires an independent evaluation by a licensed, experienced attorney.