What is loitering?

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Loitering refers to the act of staying or remaining at a particular place for a prolonged period but with no apparent or definite purpose. When a person stays in hallway of a public building for example and he spends long hours doing nothing in that particular space, he may be charged with loitering. In some cases, this particular person may simply be asked to leave the hallway or nearby premises or he may be subject to fines and penalties. There may also be instances when this person may actually be legally charged for committing the offense of loitering. This is especially true if this particular person is considered a danger or menace to the people that pass through the hallway of the involved public space or building.

In the past, laws against loitering were common and prevalent in many countries. The basic premise of these laws is to promote safety and order in any place or space. If a person seemingly overstays or remains in a specific area for a prolonged period and with no apparent reason, he/she may be deemed a threat or possible danger to the area or to other people. If no purpose is defined or apparent when lingering in a specific spot or place, most people in authority would assume that the person loitering shouldn’t be there in the first place and should be asked to leave or be imposed with penalties. Some people considered anti-loitering laws as too discriminatory or too vague in terms of implementation which is why many of these laws were also revised or scrapped in modern times. People who are technically loitering for a reasonable amount of time may not necessarily get imprisoned or given penalties. Many of them may simply be warned to go someplace else or discreetly asked to leave. If the person’s presence is deemed suspicious or dangerous, then he/she may be forcefully taken out from the involved area or may be interrogated for his/her loitering actions.

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