Informative letter about daytime curfews

I thought that this curfew issue might be of interest to the home-ed and sep-school lists. Basically, there are several cities and counties (including mine!) which are passing or have passed curfew laws for minors, including daytime curfews. These laws essentially criminalize the act of being in public.

Children can be arrested and taken to jail for violating the curfew. There is a hefty fine. A parent being with the child, or providing a written “pass” for a child old enough to travel alone, is not enough. In fact, if the parent is aware that the child is out in public during curfew hours, the parent has also violated the law. So have the business owners where the child may be, unless they tell the child to leave or call the police.

There are NO “exceptions,” i.e., reasons that the child could give to a police officer to explain his being out – i.e. homeschooler, part-time job after school, dental appointment, being with his parent/guardian, etc. – which will PREVENT him from being arrested. These are all “defenses to prosecution,” which means that the child should be able to avoid further prosecution by proving his innocence through one of these or similar reasons for being out. But this happens AFTER he has been taken to jail, booked, etc., possibly held for hours.

There are NO defenses to prosecution for the parent, the way our proposed county law is currently written (might want to read your local ordinance carefully for glitches like this). If I take my child to the library on Friday morning and stop for lunch on the way home, the restaurant owner is obligated by law to ask my child to leave and to call the police if we do not. If a police officer happens to be eating lunch in the same restaurant, his duty requires that he arrest us both.

My child, after being taken downtown and held, interviewed by CPS workers, etc., would be able to offer the defense that he was a homeschooler on bonafide school business and that he was with his parent; of course, there would be expenses for an attorney, etc., and of course, it is really none of their business! I would be able to offer NO pre-established defense, the way the law is currently written here locally.

I think it is improbable that this would actually happen, because the police will enforce this law selectively based on the appearance and apparent activities of the child, as well as who he is with.

This is repugnant and discriminatory for obvious reasons. Obviously, there are all kinds of rights being violated. This is clearly a problem for homeschoolers, but this is really a much larger issue. Just thought you guys might want to forward this post from a member of my local homeschool group, since curfew laws are apparently showing up all over the country, and ACLU has indicated interest if enough people in enough places respond.



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