Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that laws against criminal activity exist to protect the public. That said, we also know that some of the laws on the books today actually hurt the public.
Consider the case of Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old South Florida man, who has been charged with a crime for handing out food to the homeless. The charge stems from a new Fort Lauderdale law “banning public food sharing.”
Supporters of the law, which has pushed this selfless 90-year-old into the criminal justice system, say that feeding the homeless only feeds the cycle of homelessness. Abbott, on the other hand, believes that by doing what is now labelled a crime, he is simply giving food to the hungry.
There is a video, uploaded as part of CNN’s coverage of the now-national story, which shows 90-year-old Abbott being unsympathetically ushered away from the table at which he was handing out food to the hungry. Individuals can be seen questioning authorities, asking for answers concerning why Abbott is being made a criminal for simply doing what most of us have been taught is a good deed.
On the day Abbott received the citation for feeding the homeless, so too did two pastors who were with him, doing what they felt was their religious duty: helping those less fortunate. Many others aside from just religious officials feel that it is their duty to help those in need. Most people would agree it’s better to provide food to the homeless than to simply give them cash, which might be spent on harmful substances; according to this new law, though, giving cash to the homeless would be the legal alternative.
Because of the enforcement of the new law, which Fort Lauderdale’s mayor has unsympathetically brushed off as business as usual, Abbott and the two pastors with whom he was cited, face up to $500 in fines — and 60 days in jail! Imagine that; being charged for a crime and being put in jail for feeding the homeless, a deed most would consider to be charity.
This is not the first time Abbott has faced punishment for feeding the homeless. In fact, back in 1999, Arnold Abbot and his Love Thy Neighbor Fund organization sued the City of Fort Lauderdale for banning him from feeding homeless individuals on the beach. Abbott won his lawsuit. Now, as our criminal defense lawyers understand, Abbott is ready to use the law in his defense again.
Many of the laws on the books today don’t make sense and are counterproductive, frequently because either they are outdated or, as is the case in this instance, they were poorly drawn up and improperly executed. To criminalize the altruistic actions of a 90-year-old man is wrong, and our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers believe Mr. Abbott has a legitimate legal defense to the charges he faces.
If you feel you’ve been wrongly charged or have been charged under an improper law, please contact our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Liefert. To schedule a free consultation, please give us a call at 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to speaking with you.