Featured News 2013 Define the Law: Curfew Crimes

Define the Law: Curfew Crimes

Many cities in the United States have set curfews in place that specifically affect juveniles. There are also emergency curfews and business curfews which may be set in place in order to restore order in a particular jurisdiction. A parent may have their own curfew for their children, but according to the law if youths are out past curfew they can be charged with a violation. Curfew laws can be set at the state of local level. They prohibit youth under a certain age from being in public or in a business establishment during certain hours.

Typically, juvenile curfew is set from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Most often, the curfew laws apply to teens that are under the age of 18. Normally authorities use these curfews in hopes that they will restore social order and help to prevent juvenile crime in the area. These laws can be different depending on which state the teen is in. For example, in Birmingham, Alabama, it is illegal for children under the age of 17 to be on the streets unsupervised after 9:00 p.m. on weekdays and after 11:00 p.m. on the weekends.

Juveniles who violate the Birmingham law will be given a $500 fine per violation and parents may also be held liable for their child's curfew violations under the Birmingham law. Also, in the District of Columbia, a person under the age of 17 cannot remain in an outdoor public place or even in a vehicle or on the premise of any establishment during curfew hours. Curfew hours in D.C. are from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

In Los Angeles, curfew hours are set from 10:00 p.m. to sunrise. Teenagers are not allowed to be outside in public places unless they qualify with an exception. If they are caught, teens can be issued a $675 fine in Los Angeles and may also be required to serve community service. Some teens can also lose their license for being caught outside past curfew.

In Philadelphia, curfew laws only apply to children under the age of 13 during the school year. These children are not allowed to be in a public place unsupervised after 9:00 p.m. (9:30 p.m. on weekends.) A first violation for curfew will result in a $350 fine, and this fine will rise with subsequent arrests. Typically, if a teenager is caught outside past curfew he or she will not be taken to the police station. Instead, authorities will normally take the child back to his house to discuss the issue with the child's parents.

If your child is given a juvenile crime penalty for failing to be home at curfew, you may want to hire a criminal defense attorney who deals with juvenile crime in to help you avoid the costs of the offense. You may be able to argue that you child should be exempt from the penalty because he or she was out past curfew as a part of an exception. Also, you may be able to argue that the child had parental permission to be out.

Some juvenile curfew laws do not have parental permission exemptions, but this constitutes unwarranted government interference with parents' rights to control the upbringing of their children. Also, curfew laws can be challenged if you can prove that the curfew is unconstitutional because police officers target children based on race. You can also argue that the curfew violated your child's right to free interstate travel or has an unlawful imposition of martial law. Talk with a local criminal defense attorney if you want to try and challenge your charges!

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