Is Blatant “In Your Face” Panhandling Legal in Washington State? [VIDEO]
Is panhandling legal in the Evergreen State?
The short answer is YES.
I saw a friend's post on Facebook that was quite popular in sharing, as well as comments. She asked, "Does anyone know Sophia's story?" It appears that "Sofia" needs surgery on her heart. The person was collecting money for Sofia's surgery.
Lots of people commented. It seems that everyone received different answers for Sofia's ailment.
I talked with Officer Fernando Ramos from the Kennewick Police Department about Panhandling.
He told me that "there is nothing outlawing panhandling unless the panhandler is found to be fraudulent." Ramos went on to tell me that the City of Kennewick has the Sit, Lie Law, which prohibits sitting or lying on the sidewalk or in public spaces. Ramos says, "People cannot prohibit the use of the sidewalk from other patrons using it." The ordinance is meant to address panhandlers using or blocking the sidewalk. "They must remain standing."
Sure, you see people asking for money on high-volume areas around our Tri-Cities. Popular areas are Highway 395 and Kennewick Avenue, especially near McDonald's and Taco Bell, Road 68, and Court Street in Pasco. Often I see people panhandling on offramps, and at Winco in Richland.
A co-worker and I were discussing panhandling. He told me that when he sees a panhandler with a dog, he'll give the person a can of dog food for the pooch. When approached at a gas station, he'll gladly put gas in the person's vehicle or gas can.
What to do if you believe someone is collecting money for a fraudulent cause?
Officer Ramos recommends calling the Police to report it.
You can watch how the Sit-Lie Law is playing out in Oregon below.