7/12/2005Oakland Sideshow Spectator Arrest Ordinance Expected to Pass
Oakland, California Ordinance would allow automobile seizure of participants and arrest of spectators.
The full Oakland, California City Council is expected today to adopt an ordinance making it a crime to be a spectator at a "sideshow." A sideshow is defined as a vehicle in motion that exhibits "stunts and maneuvers in the presence of spectators." The council's Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the ordinance on June 28.
This means that watching someone do a donut at an Oakland intersection could land you a maximum punishment of six months in jail and a $1000 fine. Merely speaking an encouraging word about what you see, or giving a "thumbs up" could be considered aiding and abetting the sideshow crime. The ordinance, sponsored by former California Governor and now Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, punishes first time spectators with a $500 fine plus community service and "education," while a second offense increases the fine to $750, and a third to $1000.
The ordinance allows police officers and medical personnel to watch a sideshow while on duty.
In addition, the sideshow performers could have their cars immediately seized even before being convicted of any crime. The ordinance authorizes police to hold any car for up to six business days before an appeal must be heard. If the city proceeds with forfeiture, a superior court judge hears the case under a weak "preponderance of the evidence" standard, not the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard of a criminal prosecution.
Seized cars will be sold for the benefit of the Oakland city budget, unless the city chooses to exercise its option to allow a defendant to pay an amount equal to the value of the car as a fine.
The full text of the ordinance is available in an 819k PDF file at the source link below.