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Thread: What constitutes a 'public place'?

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    Regular Member MyWifeSaidYes's Avatar
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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    The first line of ORC 2921.29 starts:

    No person who is in a public place shall...
    But what, exactly, is a "public place"?

    Other codes contain the phrase "public place", including Disorderly Conduct and Inducing Panic, but it appears to only be defined under the smoking ban law - ORC 3794.01.

    As used in this chapter:

    ...

    (B) "Public place" means an enclosed area to which the public is invited or
    in which the public is permitted and that is not a private residence.

    ...
    (F) "Enclosed Area" means an area with a roof or other overhead covering of
    any kind and walls or side coverings of any kind, regardless of the presence of
    openings for ingress and egress, on all sides or on all sides but one.

    So, if this definition applies throughout the ORC, the inside of a gas station is a private place, but the area outside the building is not.

    That would mean sidewalks, parks, shelter houses (without walls), parking lots and a lot more places are not public places. If not a public place, ORC 2921.29 doesn't apply.

    Right?
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    Regular Member NEOOpenCarry's Avatar
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    That is how I am reading it. I know that in local municipality codes it defines it as being a place that the general public has access to including sidewalks, public streets and alleys, but you are right I cannot find that in the ORC.
    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” - Thomas Jefferson

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    Laws tend to be very specific as to which sections particular definitions apply. If the definition you cite does not specifically relate the the section in question or to the entirety of the ORC, then it is meaningless in the context of that section. Look elsewhere for a definition that would apply to that section or to the entire ORC. If there is no such definition, then plain reading will apply, construed against the State in gray areas.

    In that case, I'd say it means public property, not private property at all, even if the public is invited and it is not a residence.

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    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_ca...en&as_sdt=8003


    touches on what a public place is ...

    Access to the "streets, sidewalks, parks, and other similar public places . . . for the purpose of exercising [First Amendment rights] cannot constitutionally be denied broadly . . . ."[36] Free expression "must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied."[37]

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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Link does not work.

    Also, it would be irrelevant unless it touches on Ohio law, specifically the section in question.

    But, hey, some people are experts in the law in all 57 States! So we should all heed what he posts on the law, all law, all States!


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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    2907.241 Loitering to engage in solicitation - solicitation after positive HIV test.
    .......

    (C) As used in this section:
    (1) "Vehicle" has the same meaning as in section 4501.01 of the Revised Code.
    (2) "Public place" means any of the following:
    (a) A street, road, highway, thoroughfare, bikeway, walkway, sidewalk, bridge, alley, alleyway, plaza, park, driveway, parking lot, or transportation facility;
    (b) A doorway or entrance way to a building that fronts on a place described in division (C)(2)(a) of this section;
    (c) A place not described in division (C)(2)(a) or (b) of this section that is open to the public.
    .........

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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Quote Originally Posted by color of law View Post
    But that would not apply to the section of the code being referenced in the OP, right?


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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    But that would not apply to the section of the code being referenced in the OP, right?


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    More so than ORC 3794.01.

    But, I suggest this example:
    A public space is a social space such as a town square that is open and accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. One of the earliest examples of public spaces are commons. For example, no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants discriminated based on background. Non-government-owned malls are examples of 'private space' with the appearance of being 'public space'.
    Last edited by color of law; 05-22-2013 at 11:04 PM.

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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    More so?

    Either it would apply because something in the ORC said so, or it would not. It would not be a matter of degree. If there is no definition in the code specifically for the section in question, then plain language would apply. Correct?


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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    Link does not work.

    Also, it would be irrelevant unless it touches on Ohio law, specifically the section in question.

    But, hey, some people are experts in the law in all 57 States! So we should all heed what he posts on the law, all law, all States!


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    Hum... link tested & worked ... anywho ..Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 US 104 - Supreme Court 1972

    Only a US supreme court ruling ... and just an example ... as I said

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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    More so?

    Either it would apply because something in the ORC said so, or it would not. It would not be a matter of degree. If there is no definition in the code specifically for the section in question, then plain language would apply. Correct?


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    Yes, but the court would look at definitions used in the ORC for guidance.

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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Well, this is Ohio and the statute in question would, barring unconstitutionality, use a definition from the ORC, not one from the SCOTUS. So just cuz you found a case with the words "public spaces" in it doesn't mean squat.


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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Quote Originally Posted by color of law View Post
    Yes, but the court would look at definitions used in the ORC for guidance.
    If a definition does not specifically apply to a section of code, any guidance they find should only favor the defendant, not the State. To take a definition that the code specifically says applies to named sections and apply it to another to the detriment of a defendant smacks of creating law at the time of trial and being ex post facto.


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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    Well, this is Ohio and the statute in question would, barring unconstitutionality, use a definition from the ORC, not one from the SCOTUS. So just cuz you found a case with the words "public spaces" in it doesn't mean squat.


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    Actually incorrect. The U.S. Supreme Court definition of a public place does carry a lot of weight.

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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    If a definition does not specifically apply to a section of code, any guidance they find should only favor the defendant, not the State. To take a definition that the code specifically says applies to named sections and apply it to another to the detriment of a defendant smacks of creating law at the time of trial and being ex post facto.


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    Not necessarily. Remember, the courts decision is actually an opinion. And you know about opinions.

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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Only if there were a question of US Constitutional law. When it comes to Ohio law, what SCOTUS says should not be controlling unless the issue were one of Ohio law running afoul of the US Constitution. Of course, it can be considered, but it would be no more compelling than the law from another State or another nation in shedding light on what the words would ordinarily mean.


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    What constitutes a 'public place'?

    Quote Originally Posted by color of law View Post
    Not necessarily. Remember, the courts decision is actually an opinion. And you know about opinions.
    Of course courts can go off the reservation. They do it all the time. I am discussing what a rational court should do.


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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    Of course courts can go off the reservation. They do it all the time. I am discussing what a rational court should do.


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    That's an oxymoron.

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    Color of law, didn't you explain to me at a picnic that definitions were taken to be consistent throughout the ORC unless otherwise specifically designated for a section? Whoever told me also gave cite(s) to back it up. I can't remember the cite(s). If it was you then that explanation would be germane here, I believe. It was something like definitions or intent of the legislature is presumed to be consistent throughout the ORC unless otherwise specified????
    Last edited by JmE; 05-23-2013 at 03:07 PM. Reason: typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by eye95 View Post
    Either it would apply because something in the ORC said so, or it would not. It would not be a matter of degree. If there is no definition in the code specifically for the section in question, then plain language would apply. Correct?
    Indeed. The statutes and case law on this are very basic:
    "Words and phrases shall be read in context and construed according to the rules of grammar and common usage. Words and phrases that have acquired a technical or particular meaning, whether by legislative definition or otherwise, shall be construed accordingly." R.C. 1.42.
    "A legislative body need not define every word it uses in an enactment. (Citation omitted.) Moreover, any term left undefined by statute is to be accorded its common, everyday meaning." State v. Dorso (1983), 4 Ohio St.3d 60, 62.
    "Words in common use will be construed in their ordinary acceptation and significance, and with the meaning commonly attributed to them." Eastman v. State (1936), 131 Ohio St. 1, paragraph 5 of the syllabus.
    "[P]rohibition against excessive vagueness does not invalidate every statute which a reviewing court believes could have been drafted with greater precision. Many statutes will have some inherent vagueness, for '[i]n most English words and phrases there lurk uncertainties.'" Rose v. Locke (1975), 423 U.S. 48, 49-50, quoting Robinson v. United States (1945), 324 U.S. 282, 286.

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