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People using signs to solicit handouts don't need to worry about being cited by Salt Lake City police anymore.

The city has settled a federal lawsuit by agreeing it will not issue tickets to people holding signs asking for money or employment.

Attorney Brian Barnard, who represented three homeless people, had argued their signs asking for money were constitutionally protected free speech.

"The City still may enforce (and should enforce) ordinances against blocking the sidewalk, blocking driveways or door ways, threatening or harming people or other harmful conduct," Barnard said Tuesday. "Such misconduct is not protected by the First Amendment."

As part of the settlement, a judge will determine how much the city must pay Barnard in attorney's fees and costs.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court last summer by one man and two women who were cited for panhandling by Salt Lake City police. The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the state law used to cite them.

That statute forbids a person from standing near a road in order to solicit from the occupant of a car. It also includes asking for rides, contributions, employment and other business through signs.

The challenged statute does not apply to verbal soliciting, something that is not regulated in the city. The city last month voted to delay a proposed ordinance that would make it a crime to panhandle within 10 feet of ATMs, sidewalk cafes, church entrances and transit stops.

"The resolution of this lawsuit by the City defendants is a step in the right direction," Barnard said Tuesday. "We need to tackle underlying social ills and not punish those who are suffering from poverty, addiction, mental illness or homelessness."

Attorneys who represented the city in the lawsuit could not be reached for comment Tuesday.