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Legal Issues When Camping Out for iPhone 5

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on September 19, 2012 6:51 AM

Can camping out for the iPhone 5 (or any other much-awaited product release) lead to legal issues?

Alas, there's no app to answer that question, and Siri isn't much help either ("I found 15 campgrounds... 12 of them are fairly close to you"). But patient iPhone line-waiters may want to review a few legal rights, lest there be any problems with police or other iPhone fanatics.

Here are 5 legal issues that may arise:

  1. Can you occupy the sidewalk?
    It depends on who owns the sidewalk or parking lot you're camped out on. If the Apple store owns it and says it's OK, then you're good to go. But some jurisdictions make it illegal for people to obstruct sidewalks or public rights-of-way. If a private property owner is particularly strict, he may also call police to report you as a trespasser.

  2. Trash talk.
    Camping out for an iPhone can require a supply of food, which in turn requires a place to toss out your trash. Don't just throw it onto the sidewalk or the street, or you could potentially face a fine for littering. This can also rise to the level of a misdemeanor or even a felony.

  3. Potty talk.
    After you've eaten, you'll inevitably hear the call of nature. Be smart and look for public facilities or make arrangements with a nearby business to use theirs. Because if you just decide to relieve yourself in the street, you could get charged for violating an anti-public urination law or even indecent exposure. That's no laughing matter, especially as some states may require you to register as a sex offender for such an act.

  4. Alcohol and drug use.
    Some bored campers will decide to pass the time with excessive drinking and illegal drug use. But even if such activity is confined to a tent, it's still possible to get arrested for being high or drunk in public -- especially if non-users get fed up with your obnoxious behavior and call the cops. Aside from drug and alcohol charges, you can also potentially be charged with disorderly conduct.

  5. iFights & iWitnesses.
    Chances are, not everyone in line will be getting a coveted new iPhone, which means some will leave empty-handed -- not to mention jealous and angry. Physical fights are not unheard of in such situations. If a brawl happens to break out, try to stay out of it, though you may want to use your shiny new iPhone to record the altercation as evidence.

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