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Posted on August 31, 2017 in Crime

How Serious an Offense Is Curfew Violation?

Juvenile curfew laws exist to keep young people out of harm’s way and to deter them from criminal activity. Most curfew laws exist at the local level, and lawmakers determine them based on community preferences and the degree of criminal activity in the area. Local ordinances differ across the country, but most apply to individuals under the age of 18 and enact a curfew during nighttime hours, such as 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Exceptions to Curfew Laws

Local ordinances will also dictate the acceptable exceptions to the rule. Legislators understand some juveniles have academic or extracurricular commitments that may require staying out late at night, or they may need to work and be free to return home late at night. Most exceptions to curfew laws include:

  • Minors who are traveling to or from their places of employment
  • Minors who are traveling to or from school or religious functions
  • Minors who are traveling while accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Minors performing errands per an adult’s instructions, such as visiting a corner store for groceries when necessary
  • Emergency situations

Punishments for Curfew Violations

Since local curfew ordinances exist as crime deterrents, local legislators will typically handle curfew violations based on several factors, including the juvenile’s record of past criminal activity and curfew violations. Repeat offenders are more likely to face harsher penalties and should consult with a Phoenix juvenile crimes lawyer to dispute. Those penalties often include fines, community service, mandatory after-school programs, temporary detention in juvenile hall or police custody, restricted driving privileges, or some combination of these penalties.

Most local lawmakers and legislators aim to handle curfew violations in socially constructive ways rather than simply imposing harsh penalties. The belief is that positive reinforcement and deterrent programs will have a more positive effect on young people who may be at risk of developing high-risk or criminal proclivities. Law enforcement will typically only crack down on curfew violations if they perceive a link between juvenile curfew violations and crime rates in the area.

Juvenile curfew laws are also often subject to selective enforcement, meaning some officials will not consider a single incident of curfew violation as a serious matter. Police will typically save their time and resources for more significant crimes and work with curfew violators to cultivate more responsible habits.

Parental Punishments

While juvenile curfew laws vary greatly across the country and are often subject to selective enforcement and case-by-case leniency, some violations will have more significant consequences. In some cases, parents can suffer legal issues for failing to prevent their child’s reckless behavior and repeated curfew violations. Parents can sometimes incur fines and other forms of punishment for knowingly allowing their children to violate local curfew laws.

Parents should be fully aware of the curfew laws in their communities. If there is any room for doubt about a particular area’s curfew laws, the best option is to speak with a police officer or other local legislator to confirm the details. While curfew violation may not seem like a serious infraction, repeat violations and lack of enforcement can lead to high-risk behaviors, increased crime rates, and other negative outcomes.