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Is it a crime to pose as a blind person for alms?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Christmas is the season of giving, as they say. It’s not unusual for people to be generous during the holidays, with some going out of their way to give handouts to the poor and less fortunate.

Given this context, some people might get the idea of pretending to be a blind person to collect alms. This might sound like a harmless thing, but Missouri considers this deceit a criminal offense.

Feigned blindness as a theft offense

According to state law, a person who simulates blindness or pretends to be blind for the purpose of obtaining something of value from another commits an offense. Any form of begging, busking or street performance while pretending to be blind falls under this definition.

The definition also applies whether the person pretending to be blind asks for money, food, drink or any other gratuity.

Penalties for fake blindness

A person convicted of feigning blindness commits a Class A misdemeanor, per state law. This might not sound like much, but the person faces up to a year in jail and $2,000 in fines for conviction. In addition, the person will have a criminal record, which can negatively impact their educational and job opportunities.

So, yes – it’s a crime to pretend to be a blind person for the purpose of getting handouts and tips. Jail time, fines and a criminal record await those caught playing pretend. Whether you acted as a blind person for a prank or you were mistakenly accused of the offense, consider contacting a legal professional to help you defend your case.