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Do Minors Have a Curfew in California?

Posted by Raoul Severo | Dec 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

As expected from the “Land of the Free”, America does not seem to be such a big fan of curfews. Out of all 50 states, Hawaii is currently the only one that has imposed a state-wide curfew for teenagers. Other states, such as California and Florida, have individual counties and cities with distinct curfew laws. 

Before we discuss the California curfew laws, let us first set the definition of terms straight.

In layman's terms, a curfew is an ordinance that aims to restrict minors from loitering, wandering, or even staying outside for a specific duration. From this, policymakers can make many variations in a curfew, such as the age range encompassed, the start and end hours, and which places are covered by it. Similarly, there are many types of curfews:

    • Emergency curfews - These are only temporary restrictions set on a specific location after the occurrence of a public crisis, such as natural disasters, public health threats, and terrorist attacks.
  • Business curfews - A business curfew is, quite obviously, directed towards establishments that offer services or consumer products to close early, alter operating hours, shut down, or temporarily withhold service. It usually occurs when there is a public disturbance or health crisis.
  • Juvenile curfew - This is the type of curfew that we are going to discuss in this article. As mentioned earlier, these curfews stop a certain age group from being in a public place during certain hours.

The main reason why some places enact curfews on minors is to prevent juvenile crimes from happening and thus maintaining social order. Minors are usually more vulnerable to crimes as they are often perceived as “less powerful” or inexperienced to detect red flags early on. So, it can also be said that juvenile curfews are intended to protect young people from harm. 

Now, as stated before, California does not have a state-wide curfew for minors. However, certain cities may have their own curfew laws that residents are expected to follow. Note that specific rules may vary from area to area, but here are the general things you need to know about California curfews:

  • All minors under the age of 18 are subjected to follow the curfew laws of their respective cities/counties;
  • Curfews usually start at 10:00pm during the weekdays while 12:00am on the weekends. Please check your local public information board to see if your county/city has a different time schedule;
  • In the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, curfew laws may be amended occasionally. Stay updated by visiting the official pages of your local government;

Exceptions

As all laws do, juvenile curfews in California have exceptions. More specifically, the law does not apply if:

  • The minor is accompanied by their parent/guardian;
  • The minor is accomplishing an errand or task as ordered by an adult;
  • The minor is attending an official school, religious, political activities;
  • The minor is going to or from their place of employment; or
  • The minor is responding to an emergency.

Examples

Here are some scenarios which violate the curfew law of California:

  • A 15-year-old boy sneaks out of his house at 1:00am despite a city-wide curfew in place in order to attend a street party.
  • Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, your younger sibling goes out and ignores the curfew as he has been invited to a gang riot.
  • Your 17-year-old friend hears of a Black Lives Matter protest happening in his district and plans to join. However, government officials have ordered a 6:00am curfew for all protestors. Your friend takes note of this information and attends the protest but does not mind the time. By the time of the curfew, she finds herself stranded while authorities start arresting curfew violators.

Related Offenses

While curfew is a very broad topic, there are several crimes and offenses that can be linked to curfew violations, such as:

Penalties for Curfew Violations

There is no specific penal code in California that criminalizes curfew violations, but there are still penalties for those who fail to follow them.

  • Parents will be shouldering the expenses or costs for the detainment or transportation of the minor to his or her home;
  • Community service;
  • Fines; and
  • For subsequent offenses, the minor may become a state ward and serve time in juvenile jail.

Call a Lawyer For Help

Curfew laws are very specific and varied; hence, we highly recommend that you check with your local government for further information. By doing this, you will be able to stand your ground against officers who might be following their own protocols. In any case that you get detained or legally held accountable for a potential breach of curfew rules, it is best to contact a defense lawyer. Attorneys have access to virtually all ordinances, laws, or state codes; thus, they will be able to determine whether or not the accusation is based on facts.

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