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To be dilatory, delay, linger, saunter, and to idle. “Loiter” does not signify anything bad or criminal, except when given such significance in criminal ordinance or statute. Loitering laws prohibit lingering in a public area without a purpose.

Some examples of loitering laws include:

  • In Florida, “[i]t is unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place, at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals, under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.”
  • In New York, “[a] person is guilty of loitering in the first degree when he loiters or remains in any place with one or more persons for the purpose of unlawfully using or possessing a controlled substance . . .”

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]