When panhandling is illegal in central Indiana

Posted at 8:01 AM, May 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-29 08:01:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- No matter where you live, you can find panhandlers across central Indiana. 

In Indiana, asking somebody for money is a protected form of free speech, but there are a lot of things people can't do when trying to get money. 

"The law is not incredibly simple," Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Shane Foley said. 

Illegal panhandling is a misdemeanor. It is defined as any of the following:

  • Touching somebody without consent
  • Blocking somebody's path
  • Using profane language
  • Following somebody after they refuse to give money
  • Intimidation

If it's on private property, the business owners can tell them to leave. If they do not leave, it would be trespassing. 

The bottom line -- it's up to you to decide if you want to give somebody money. If you do not want to, and somebody pressures you into it, IMPD says to report it to police, so they crack down on illegal panhandling. 

Michael McGee said he laid concrete before he got hurt. Now he holds a sign at a street corner, asking for money. 

"I'm not trying to do anything wrong," McGee said. "I'm just trying to eat."

McGee said he usually gets about 12-13 dollars per day.

For McGee, panhandling is a means to survival and to take care of his family. When somebody does help, McGee appreciates it. 

"My message is 'Thank you very much sir or ma'am appreciate you. Thank you Lord,'" McGee said. 

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