Anaheim, CA asked in Gov & Administrative Law for California

Q: If my pursuit of happiness is to live outside does the government have aright to decide otherwise?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Please remember, the idea of the "pursuit of happiness" is in the Declaration of Independence, not in the Constitution of the United States or even the California Constitution. It is not a "right" guaranteed to you by the government. The government has the right to impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of personal preferences in behavior to protect the public and to promote safety. This is why you cannot drive when drunk, or run stop lights. If you just want to sleep under the stars in your own backyard, this would rarely implicate public safety. If you want to sleep naked in the middle of the 405, you will be taken into custody and probably subjected to psychiatric examination, under section 5150. Remember, others have property rights, you cannot just camp on someone else's property, or even on public property, unless it is designated for that purpose.

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