BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Is door-to-door soliciting illegal? It depends on who you are and where you are.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that politicians, religious groups, the Girl Scouts and others have a constitutional right to go door-to-door promoting their causes without first getting permission from local officials. But it's a different ballgame when it comes to people working for commercial sales.
"Cities try to regulate and protect their citizens because there's a legitimate interest in citizens not being bothered by solicitors if they don't want to," said attorney V.J. Graffeo. "Time and time again, cities come up with all different types of statutory ordinances that protect them. Time and time again, courts are figuring it which was proper and which ones are not."
Some ordinances have been challenged locally. If you want to protect yourself from solicitors, Graffeo suggests a fence, a "no trespassing" sign or a "no solicitation" sign for commercial sales .
If you're a potential business owner or subcontractor who wants to conduct door-to-door solicitation, you need to know the guidelines in each city before trying to sell anything in those municipalities.
In the case of the Adamsville subcontractor, he had a business license for the county, which is a start, but you need to take it a step further when you enter into city limits. Some solicitors must first obtain a peddlers license before they can knock on anyone's door.
"It's critically important to go to each government entity and understand the rules and regulations for solicitations and how you can comply with those and understand what rights residents have on the type of signage they can place on their property to determine how you can conduct your business," said Graffeo.