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Law Dictionary Home Dictionary Definition vagrants

Vagrants, sturdy beggars; vagabonds. The Act which is now in force, embodying, mitigating, and extending numerous former provisions, is the (English) Vagrancy Act, 1824 (5 Geo. 4, c. 83). It has been extended by the Vagrancy Act, 1838, as to re-commitment on failure to prosecute, appeal, and exhibition of obscene prints; by the (English) Vagrant Act Amendment Act, 1873, as to gambling and betting in streets; by the Vagrancy Act, 1898, amended by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1912, s. 7, as to men living on earnings of prostitution; and by (English) Poor Law Act, 1930, s. 150, as to obtaining relief by falsehood. It points out three classes of persons:- 1st, idle and disorderly persons; 2nd, rogues and vagabonds; 3rd, incorrigible rogues. First. Idle and Disorderly Persons.-The following are, under the Vagrancy Act, 1824, s. 3, to be deemed 'idle and disorderly persons,' so that any justice of the peace may commit them (being convicted before him) to the house of correction to hard labour for not more than one month subject to an appeal to the sessions, viz.:-(1) Every person able to maintain himself or his family, and wilfully refusing or neglecting so to do, whereby he or any of his family whom he is bound to maintain shall become chargeable to any parish. (2) Every person returning to and becoming chargeable in any parish, etc., whence he, etc., shall have been removed by order of two justices, unless he, etc., produce a certificate of the church-wardens and overseers of the poor of some other parish, etc., acknowledging him, etc., to be settled in such parish, etc. (3) Every pedlar wandering abroad, and trading without licence. (4) Every common prostitute wandering in the public streets or public highway, or in any place of public resort, and behaving in a riotous and indecent manner. (5) Every person wandering abroad, or placing himself or herself in any public place, street, highway, Court, or passage, to beg, or gather alms, or procuring children so to do, see Mathers v. Penfold, (1915) 1 KB 514. (6) Every person relieved, in a workhouse, and refusing or neglecting while therein to perform the task prescribed by the guardians of the parish or union, if suited to his age and strength, or wilfully destroying or injuring his clothes, or damaging property of the guardians. (7) Every woman neglecting to maintain her bastard child, being able so to do, whereby it becomes chargeable to any parish or union. Secondly. Rogues and Vagabonds.-The following are, by the Vagrancy Act, 1824, s. 4 as amended by the (English) Vagrancy Act, 1935 (25 Geo. 5, c. 20), to be deemed 'rogues and vagabonds,' whom it is lawful for any justice to commit (being convicted before him) to the house of correction to hard labour for not more than three months, subject, as in the case of idle and disorderly persons, to an appeal to the sessions, viz.: (1) Every person committing any of the offences hereinbefore mentioned, after having been con-victed as an idle and disorderly person. (2) Every person pretending to tell fortunes, or using any craft or device, by palmistry, or otherwise [this includes 'Spiritualism'-Monck v. Hilton, (1877) 2 Ex D 268], to deceive [see R. v. Entwistle, (1899) 1 QB 846] and impose on any of his Majesty's subjects. (3) Every person wandering abroad, or lodging in any barn or outhouse, or in any deserted or unoccupied buildings, or in the open air, or under a tent, or in any cart or waggon, and not giving a good account of himself; but not unless (by Vagrancy Act, 1935) it is proved (a) that he had been directed to an accessible place of shelter and failed to apply for or refused shelter there, (b) that he is a persistent wanderer abroad notwithstand-ing accessible shelter, or caused damage or was likely to be infectious with vermin or otherwise (a place of shelter means gratis accommodation for the night), a 'tent, cart or waggon' with or in which the person travels in excluded from the meaning of the penalising words in the Act of 1824. (4) Every person unlawfully exposing to view in any street, or shop in any street, road, or public place, any obscene picture, or other indecent exhibition. (5) Every person wilfully exposing his person in any street, etc., or in any place of public resort, with intent to insult any female. (6) Every person wandering abroad, and endeavouring, by the exposure of wounds or deformities, to obtain alms. (7) Every person endeavouring to procure charit-able contributions of any kind, under any false pretence. (8) Every person running away and leaving his wife, or his or her child or children, chargeable, or whereby they become chargeable, to any parish, etc. (9) Every person playing or betting in any street, road, highway, or other open or public place, at or with any table or instrument of gaming, at any game or pretended game of chance. (10) Every person having in his possession any picklock, etc., or other implement, with intent feloniously to break into any dwelling-house, etc., or being armed with any gun, etc., or other offensive weapon, or having upon him any instrument with intent to commit any felonious act. (11) Every person being found in any dwelling-house, etc., or in any enclosed yard, garden, or area, for any unlawful purpose. (12) Every suspected person or reputed thief frequenting any river, canal, etc., or any street, highway, etc., or any place of public resort, with intent to commit felony. (13) Every person apprehended as an idle and disorderly person, and violently resisting any con-stable or other peace officer so apprehending him, and being subsequently convicted thereof. [If in possession of firearms or imitation firearms, may be sentenced to a maximum of seven years in addition: see Firearms and Imitation Firearms (English) (Criminal Use) Act, 1933, s. 2.] Thirdly. Incorrigible Rogues.-The following persons are, by the Vagrancy Act, 1824, s. 5, to be deemed 'incorrigible rogues' under the Act:-(1) Every person escaping out of any place of legal confinement before the expiration of the term for which he shall have been committed thereto by the Act. (2) Every person committing any offence against this Act, which shall subject him or her to be dealt with as a rogue and vagabond, such person having been at some former time adjudged so to be and duly convicted thereof. (3) And every person apprehended as a rogue and vagabond, and violently resisting any constable apprehending him, and subsequently convicted of the offence for which he was so apprehended. As to incorrigible rogues, it is enacted that it shall be lawful for any justice to commit such offender (being thereof convicted before him) to the house of correction, there to remain until the next general or quarter sessions of the peace, at which sessions the justices may examine into the case, and order that such offender be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for one year or less; and, further, that such offender (not being a female) be punished by whipping, at such time, and at such place within their jurisdiction, as they deem expedient. By the (English) Vagrant Act Amendment Act, 1873 (36 & 37 Vict. c. 38), s. 3, persons gaming with coin, etc., in streets or public places are to be deemed rogues and vagabonds, and may be punished under the (English) Vagrancy Act, 1824 (5 Geo. 4, c. 83); by the Poor Law Act, 1930 (20 Geo. 5, c. 17), ss. 151 et seq. (see CASUAL PAUPER); any person making a false statement for the purpose of or committing other offences when obtaining relief out of the poor rate is to be deemed an 'idle and disorderly person'; and by the (English) Vagrancy Act, 1898, a man either (1) living on the earnings of prostitution, or (2) in any public place persistently soliciting or importuning for immoral purposes, is to be deemed a rogue and vagabond under the Act of 1824, and may be dealt with accordingly. The provisions of the Act of 1898 have been considerably amended and extended by the (English) Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1912, s. 7. As to the possession of firearms entailing penal servitude by a person committing certain offences under the Vagrancy Acts, see Firearms, etc. (Criminal Use) Act, 1933 (23 & 24 Geo. 5, c. 50), s. 2 and Sch.

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