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Begging or Soliciting Alms

PC 647(c)

Information on the crime of begging or soliciting alms is found at California penal code section 647(c). PC 647(c) falls under the general category disorderly conduct.

The Law:

PC 647(c): Any person ho accosts other persons in any public place or in any place open to the public for the purpose of begging or soliciting alms is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Accost Defined: To accost someone under PC 647(c) law means to approach and address someone in a bold or aggressive manner.

Public Place Defined: A public place, for purposes of PC 647(c), means an area open to the public, or an alley, plaza, park, driveway, or parking lot, or a building open to the general public, including one which serves food or drink, or provides entertainment, or the doorways and entrances to a building or dwelling, or the grounds enclosing a building or dwelling. (Public place is not clearly defined in PC 647(c), law but this definition is consistent with other the definition as used in other California crimes).

Begging Defined: Begging means to ask or solicit, by words or conduct , such as holding out a hand in a manner suggesting a request, for food or money, as a gift or charity.


Soliciting Alms Defined: Soliciting alms means asking for food or money for the poor.

PC 647(c) Punishment:

PC 647(c) is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of begging or soliciting alms, the defendant could face up to 180 days in county jail.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of court supervision, with or without some actual jail time. Probation sentence after a criminal conviction are common in first offense PC 647(c) cases, but whether or not a probation sentence is granted by the court depends largely on the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the individual case. Probation sentences can include actual jail time but usually that jail time may be alternately served on house arrest or work release.

Good Behavior Credits: If the defendant is sentenced to jail or work release, he or she may be entitled to reduce his or her sentence by up to 50% for good behavior.


Note: A probation sentence in PC 647(c) cases is called summary probation, informal probation,r court probation, or misdemeanor probation. All of these terms are synonymous.

CIMT: The crime of begging or soliciting alms is not a crime involving moral turpitude.

More Penalties: In addition to the punishments listed above, if found guilty of begging or soliciting alms charged under PC 647(c), the defendant could face any of the following penalties: immigration or professional license consequences, fines and fees, denial or revocation of military enlistment,  restraining orders, and more.

PC 647(c) Defense:

Common defenses to a charge of begging or soliciting alms charged under PC 647(c) include: insufficient evidence, no evidence that defendant accosted or operated in a public place, necessity, jury nullification, statute of limitations, and more. For more information on defenses to PC 647(c) crimes, see Defenses to Crimes.

Bail: The schedule bail amount for PC 647(c) is $5,000 in San Bernardino County. If the defendant has little or no criminal history it would not be uncommon for him or her to be released on his or her own recognizance (OR).

If you or a loved one is charged with begging or soliciting alms (PC 647(c), contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a fee consultation. In most PC 647(c) cases our criminal defense lawyers can attend court without the need for the defendant to also appear. Call today!


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