Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Criminal Littering Disrespects Public Property

Steve Franzen. Provided. 
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

We often prosecute cases in District Court for criminal littering when someone throws a bag of trash out of a car window or dumps piles of trash along a city or county road.  Kentucky’s law on criminal littering covers the above situations but also several additional types of littering.  Under Kentucky law, a person is guilty of criminal littering when he:

A) Drops or permits to drop on a highway any destructive or injurious material and does not immediately remove it.  This will occur for instance if a supply company lost some brick or building blocks from a truck and failed to clean it up immediately; or

B) Knowingly places or throws litter on any public or private property or in any public or private water way without permission (e.g., throwing trash out of a window or dumping along a road); or

C) Negligently places or throws glass or other dangerous pointed or edged substances on or adjacent to water to which the public has access for swimming or wading or on or within fifty feet of a public highway; or

D) Discharges sewage, minerals, oil products or litter into any public waters or lakes within the state (e.g., dumping old motor oil into a creek).

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Criminal littering under Kentucky law is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $500 fine.  In addition, we will typically require the Defendant to clean up whatever mess they made and pay any damages to the property owner where the littering occurred.

The above seems like common sense to the law-abiding community.  Unfortunately, there is always that distinct minority of individuals that do not respect the basic concept of protecting our public property from accumulating trash, debris, or rubbish.  For that distinct minority, this criminal statute exists to hold them accountable.

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at (859) 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York Street, Newport, Kentucky 41071.

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