Arcata, CA asked in Criminal Law, Civil Rights, Gov & Administrative Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: Can a police officer give you a ticket for having lunch at a table in the park that is within 150' of the water way.

In my city cops use two fish and game codes as a way to take a person who is living out doors to jail at any time a person is near the water with any personal property. (Back pack or a sleeping bag). They do this to people who are camping. Take them to jail, and then they throughout people's property. Though if they can take me to jail for eating lunch, then they should have to take everyone that eats near the water to jail, that means they can take any one to jail that uses a park table.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, there are Fish and Game Codes that regulate activities near waterways, but they are typically applied to fishing, hunting, and conservation efforts. It's unlikely that these codes would be used to ticket someone simply for eating lunch at a park table near a waterway, unless there are specific local ordinances prohibiting such activities.

However, some cities in California have laws that prohibit camping or storing personal property in public spaces, which are sometimes enforced more strictly against individuals experiencing homelessness. These laws are controversial and have been challenged in court for potentially violating constitutional rights.

If the police are selectively enforcing these laws against people who appear to be homeless, it could be considered discriminatory enforcement. If you believe that your rights have been violated, you may want to consult with a local attorney or a legal aid organization that specializes in homelessness and poverty law.

It's important to note that while the police should enforce laws fairly and equally, the reality is that people experiencing homelessness often face disproportionate enforcement of certain laws. This is a complex issue that involves addressing the underlying causes of homelessness and ensuring that all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their housing status.

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