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Time to go home

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2016-09-02


You’ve heard the expression, “Bad things happen at night”, or “Nothing good happens after midnight”. Bad things have been happening at night in Fort Wayne. Maybe Indiana’s curfew statute can help to change that.

A few weeks ago, Fort Wayne law enforcement officials announced a renewed enforcement effort with Indiana’s child curfew law. According to Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed, juvenile crime is on the rise. Nearly 600 juveniles have been arrested this year for delinquent acts occurring between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

Indiana’s curfew law is sensible and so is its enforcement. Judicial officers, prosecutors and the police aren’t alone in their desire for a safe community. However, they are well situated to implement policies intended to prevent kids from getting into trouble, getting hurt or hurting others.

Indiana’s curfew law prohibits any youngster who is fourteen or younger from being in a public place after 11:00 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m. any night/day of the week. Children aged fifteen to seventeen are also prohibited from being in a public place after 11:00 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Teenagers ranging in age from fifteen to seventeen can’t be out in public past 1:00 a.m. and before 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The curfew law provides numerous defenses. For example, a youngster who is out in public with his or her parent or guardian after curfew will have a statutory defense. A child under age eighteen will have a viable defense if he or she is traveling to or from or participating in lawful employment, a religious activity, a sanctioned school event, or activity involving constitutional protections such as free speech or assembly.

It is my understanding that a police officer who encounters a curfew violator will first attempt to locate the child’s parent(s) and take the child home. If no such parent or guardian is located, the child could be taken into detention. However, if the police suspect that the child is engaged in other illegal activity, the police will likely take the juvenile into custody.

All teenagers and even adults who look young and who are out past curfew will be susceptible to being stopped or questioned by the police. A twenty year old is allowed to be out past 1:00 a.m., for example, but he’ll have a problem if the officer suspects underage drinking or other type of illegal behavior.

Also, parents of chronic curfew violators could be held criminally responsible. A parent who fails to monitor the whereabouts of his child could be charged with neglect of a dependent as a Level 6 felony, which is punishable up to 2.5 years in jail.

Kids are safer in their homes or in the homes of a supervising adult. The curfew law isn’t perfect. But juvenile crime is on the rise and maybe the enforcement of the curfew law will help.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you


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