Juvenile Curfew Laws
Many local governments across the country have passed juvenile curfew laws. They usually apply to youths under the age of 18, and make it illegal for them to be in any “public place” during a certain time period, usually starting around 11 PM and ending around 6 AM. These laws are passed with the purpose of preventing juvenile crime and delinquency, and to protect the juveniles from criminals and predators.
Almost all juvenile curfew laws contain some exceptions. For example, if a youth is traveling to or from work, is on an errand as directed by a parent or guardian, or is attending an official school, church, or other social event, the juvenile curfew laws usually do not apply.
Juvenile curfew laws typically carry fairly lenient penalties. For first offenders, it is possible that the juvenile will be returned to his or her parents with a warning. Usually, however, a moderate fine is imposed on the child or the parents.
Some of these laws have not fared well in state courts. In 2003, a Washington court struck down a local juvenile curfew law as unconstitutional. The court reasoned that it was too vague. In other states, similar laws have fared better, as long as they are specific as to what is prohibited, and do not have open-ended prohibitions.
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Last Modified: 03-01-2011 03:32 PM PST