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    How late can I stay out?

    Date: 09.06.07 | by Judge Tom.

    Depending on your age, there are certain times when you must be in at night. These are called curfews—state or local laws that require you to be off the street and at home by certain hours. For example, your curfew may be 10:00 P.M. on school nights and midnight on weekends.

    Curfew is usually set by your city or town, and some communities have no curfew. In Chicago, if you′re under seventeen, you must be in by 11:30 P.M. on Friday and Saturday, and by 10:30 p.m. the rest of the week. In Hawaii, your curfew is 10:00 p.m. every night, unless you′re sixteen. Ask your parents, local police department, or librarian for the curfew where you live.

    Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

    Due to an increase in juvenile crime, especially at night, more cities are establishing curfews for minors. Some of the curfews have been tested in court and have been upheld as constitutional. Courts weigh three factors in determining if the law being challenged is legal when it only applies to minors: the particular vulnerability of children; their inability to make critical decisions in an informed, mature manner; and the importance of the parental role in raising children. All three factors have been found adequate to justify curfew laws.

    If you have your parents′ permission to be out after curfew, or if you′re with an adult, you haven′t violated the law. For example, your mother may send you to the store, or you may go out with friends and family after a football game, movie, or concert.

    If you violate a curfew, it may mean a fine or completing some community service hours. Some police departments will give you a ticket. Others may give you a warning and take you home, or take you to a local park or police station and call your parents to come and pick you up. In a number of cities (including Phoenix, New Orleans, Chicago, and Jacksonville), parents are being held responsible for their kids who continue to violate curfew, which may include fines and community service hours for the parents.

    If you disagree with any ticket issued to you, you have the right to plead not guilty. If you go to trial and are found guilty, the penalty should be the same. A penalty is not increased because you exercised your right to fight the ticket.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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