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Curfew laws don't always trump parental rights

Contrary to common belief, curfews are still a very real thing. Generally speaking, they are local ordinances that ban minors from being in a business or out in public during certain hours. Although these curfew laws are enacted by mainly local governments, they can carry significant penalties for repeat offenses. While there are generally only a few exceptions to curfew law, they typically do not trump a parent's right to request or instruct their minor children to be out past curfew.

Most juvenile curfew laws provide guidelines for exempted activities in which minors may be out past curfew. Although these can vary from one local government to another, they typically exempt travels to and from work, school and religious events as well as emergencies.

In a little bit more of a gray area lies a parent's right to request or instruct their minor child to be out past curfew. If a parent or guardian is accompanying a child, there is no issue of a curfew violation. However, if a minor is running errands under an adult's request or instruction, a curfew violation may be in question until the issue is verified with a parent. In some cases, if a parent is found to have allowed a child to repeatedly violate curfew laws, the parents themselves may be subject to penalties for the violation.

Just as the curfew laws vary between jurisdictions, so do the penalties for violations. For blatant curfew law violations, minors may face fines, community service, detention in juvenile hall and a restriction of driving privileges. These penalties typically increase for repeat offenses and, as stated, can be imposed on the parents.

Parents whose child is facing a curfew law violation for running an errand at their request may benefit by working with an experienced criminal law attorney. Repeat offenses may carry significant penalties and may impact a minor child's record. A lawyer experienced in criminal defense can help parents and their children defend against these claims and keep their record clean.

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