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Q: Legal Ramifications of Handing Out Flyers ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Question  
Subject: Legal Ramifications of Handing Out Flyers
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: ooogleemooglee-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 29 Jan 2003 22:44 PST
Expires: 28 Feb 2003 22:44 PST
Question ID: 155123
Solicitation usually means someone knocking on your doorstep and 
trying to sell you something. I was wondering if handing out flyers 
and leaving it on their doorknob or door would fall under the same 
category. There are neighboorhoods that have signs that say "No 
Soliciting" and "No Trespassing" and I wanted to know what are the
legal ramifications that could occur if I decided to go ahead and hand
out flyers in these areas specifically in Henrico County of Richmond,
VA. I am not going door-to-door in person trying to sell something. If
residents do get annoyed and report it to police, do I get an initial
warning or automatically fined? In addition, I am aware that it is
illegal to put flyers inside the mailbox, but what about hanging a
flyer on the mailbox flag or mailbox door handle. It is not inside the
mailbox, is that still considered illegal?
Answer  
Subject: Re: Legal Ramifications of Handing Out Flyers
Answered By: serenata-ga on 30 Jan 2003 00:50 PST
 
Hello, ooogleemooglee-ga

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what we can or cannot do without
getting in trouble, so you came to the right place to try to find
answers from Google Answers.

Please note: I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in the
Commonwealth of Virginia. The information I give below is available on
the Websites listed and is not interpreted by me as legal advice.
Google Answers Researchers do not give legal advice.

Addressing your first questions, "Solicitation usually means someone
knocking on your doorstep and trying to sell you something. I was
wondering if handing out flyers and leaving it on their doorknob or
door would fall under the same category. There are neighboorhoods that
have signs that say "No Soliciting" and "No Trespassing" and I wanted
to know what are the legal ramifications that could occur if I decided
to go ahead and hand out flyers in these areas specifically in Henrico
County of Richmond, VA."

======================
1. Richmond Virginia

Using the search on the Official City of Richmond site at
 http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/,

I searched for the words "solicitor", "tresspassing", as well as
"flyer" and "permit"

Under "solicitor", there is a $35.00 business permit if you are
soliciting "orders for books, magazines & periodicals". There is no
other reference to "solicitor" or "soliciting"

That section of the Richmond City Code can be found here:
  http://www.ci.richmond.va.us/search/query3.asp?qu=solicitors&Action=Go

As to your question regarding "trespass", Black's Law Dictionary
defines trespass as:  "Unlawful interference with another's person,
property or rights."

So far as the City of Richmond, Virginia, is concerned, distributing
flyers is not considered trespass.

========================

2. Henrico County, Virginia

Henrico County's Website is at
http://www.co.henrico.va.us/

A search of the Henrico County Attorney's Office for "flyers + permit"
found this page:
http://www.co.henrico.va.us/countyattorney/FAQs/faq_flyers.htm

"The County's sign ordinance regulates the signs that persons may put
up on their own property, consistent with the free speech protections
of the First Amendment to the Constitution. However, the sign
ordinance does not directly address the actions of those who put
flyers or advertisements on property without the owner's permission."

There was no return for "solicitor" or "trespass". Indeed, by
specifically mentioning flyers, it would appear that there is no
illegality in the distribution of flyers.

=======================

3. Items on mailbox

Regarding your question, "I am aware that it is illegal to put flyers
inside the mailbox, but what about hanging a flyer on the mailbox flag
or mailbox door handle. It is not inside the mailbox, is that still
considered illegal?"

Here is the answer from the United States Code at 18 USC 1725: 

"Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits any mailable matter such as
statements of accounts, circulars, sale bills, or other like matter,
on which no postage has been paid, in any letter box established,
approved, or accepted by the Postal Service for the receipt or
delivery of mail matter on any mail route with intent to avoid payment
of lawful postage thereon, shall for each such offense be fined under
this title." (CFR TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 83 > Sec. 1725.)

See also: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/1725.html 

I also found this this quote from the USPS' Postal Bulletin (Issue
21861, 2-17-94, p. 37):"

"D041 Customer Mail Receptacles
Use for Mail 1.3 
Except under 2.11, the receptacles described in 1.1 may be used only
for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 2.10 or 2.11,
no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not
bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by,
attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any
mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is
subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by
mail.
 
And this: 

"USPS' Postal Bulletin (Issue 21861, 2-17-94, p. 37):" 
 
"Mailable Matter in or on Private Mail Receptacles Mailable matter not
bearing postage found in or on private mail receptacles represents a
revenue deficiency to the Postal Service and is a violation of federal
law. Title 18 United States Code, section 1725, provides for a fine of
not more than $300 per piece for these violations. All employees must
uniformly enforce the procedures detailed in the Domestic Mail Manual,
section P011.2.0. The failure to enforce these procedures uniformly
may jeopardize the criminal prosecution of repeated violators."

See: http://www.lplists.com/mail-off.htm 
 
Search strategy:
- Richmond VA: flyer permit -
- Richmond VA: permit + flyer -
- Richmond VA city code
- Richmond VA
- Henrico County VA + flyers
- Henrico County VA: permit + flyers
- mailbox flyers
- mailbox without postage
- USPS Postal Bulletin mailable matter
 
========================

Summary:

Apparently there is no prohibition for passing out flyers under the
Richmond City Code or the Henrico County Code, and passing out flyers
does not meet the criteria for "trespass" or "solicitor" or
"soliciting", unless, as noted above, you are seeking "orders for
books, magazines & periodicals", in which case you must obtain a
permit for $35.00 from the City of Richmond.

So far as leaving material on or anywhere near a USPS mailbox, you can
get a hefty fine for doing so, so I would avoid that idea completely.

I hope this answers your question, and thanks for the chance to
research it.

Yours ever so,
Serenata
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