Superior Court of California, Appellate Division, Los Angeles
from a Judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County,
Long Beach Trial Court No. 6LB03096, Halim Dhanidina, Judge.
Law Group and Sebastian M. Medvei for Defendant and
appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.
here Vehicle Code section 22520.5, subdivision (a), which
makes it a crime to “solicit, display, sell, offer for
sale, or otherwise vend or attempt to vend any merchandise or
service” in designated locations on and near freeway
on-ramps and off-ramps, does not prohibit begging or
Vincent Pina appeals the judgment following his conviction of
violating Vehicle Code section 22520.5, subdivision (a),
contending there was insufficient evidence presented at trial
that he violated the statute. He further contends the statute
violated his First Amendment rights. The People have not
filed a brief disputing defendant's position. As
discussed below, we agree with defendant's first
contention, and reverse solely on that basis.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
was originally charged with a misdemeanor violation of
Vehicle Code section 22520.5, subdivision (a). The court
reduced the offense to an infraction on the People's
motion, and the matter proceeded to a court trial.
Long Beach Police Officer Michael Demarco testified that, on
June 10, 2016, he was in a patrol vehicle, exiting the 405
Freeway at the Bellflower off-ramp. Demarco noticed cars were
stopped and traffic had built up on the off-ramp. A person,
subsequently identified as defendant, was walking in lanes of
traffic on the freeway off-ramp accepting money from
motorists whose vehicles were stopped for the red light. In
one instance, defendant walked up to a vehicle, accepted
money from a driver, put the money in his pants pocket, and
returned to the curb.
drove up to defendant, who was sitting on the curb of the
off-ramp. Defendant was holding a sign that said, “Lost
my job. Lost my home. Lost my car. Please pray for me and my
family. Thank you. God bless.” Demarco ordered
defendant to exit the off-ramp, but defendant refused,
asserting his right to stay. Demarco arrested defendant for
panhandling on the freeway off-ramp, and found $51.35 in
dollar bills and change in his front pocket.
court found defendant guilty of violating Vehicle Code
section 22520.5, subdivision (a). The court ordered defendant
to pay a fine which, when penalty assessments and other fees
were added, amounted to $530.