Curfews for minors in local area

New laws

The city of San Diego has passed a new law that is similar to the old law (see below), but should meet the requirements of the court by spelling out the exemptions in far greater detail.

The new law, San Diego Municipal Code 39.101 requires all persons under 18 years of age to observe an 11 p.m. curfew on all days of the year. There are several exceptions, such as the presence of a parent or guardian or when leaving an organized activity. In such cases, the youth must go directly home with no stops. SDMC 39.102 makes parents or guardians liable for any actions of their children. (VN 11/18/99, 9.)

The county of San Diego is no longer enforcing its curfew until a new law is passed. A revised law similar to the new city law may be presented to the Board of Supervisors on July 15, 1997. (SDUT 6/25/97, B2.)

Previous laws

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the city of San Diego's curfew law in early June 1997 because the law had vague restrictions and didn't make allowances for a number of constitutionally protected activities. As a result, the status of local curfew laws is changing rapidly. Here are the old laws:

"San Diego city's law makes it illegal for anyone under 18 to be in public after 10 p.m. Violators are detained at police substations; repeat offenders and their parents can be charged with misdemeanors, punishable by a minimum $100 fine, 20 hours of community service, or both.

The law carries exceptions for teens accompanied by a parent or guardian; for those engaged in lawful employment; for those attending a school-sponsored event; and for those out during a legitimate emergency. The City Council's policy has exceptions not specifically listed in the law, such as an allowance for religious events".

"There are nuances in the policy," said Golding. "It's OK to go to a movie and come home, or to be at a friend's house and come home right afterward . . . We're really emphasizing hanging around in public places, because that's where trouble starts."

from SDUT 11/27/95, B1.

"Vista's curfew ordinance prohibits people under the age of 18 from loitering or wandering in public places after 11 p.m. during the summer unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if the minor is returning home from a sponsored church or school function.

This will be the third curfew sweep in Vista this year. The two earlier sweeps resulted in 51 arrests.

Any minors taken into custody will be taken to the Vista Sheriff's Station and will probably be released to a responsible parent or guardian."

from SDUT 8/25/95, B3.

"Oceanside's 10 p.m. curfew for minors and other violations will be strictly enforced by the squad, which will be aided by members of the department's existing gang unit."

SDUT 10/28/95, B1, B3.

"For more than three decades, the county has had curfew laws that in effect prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from being outside after 10 p.m. on school nights and past 11 p.m. on weekends and during the summer.

The laws allow some general exceptions, such as if the minor is accompanied by parents or guardians, is returning home from a supervised activity or is engaged in legitimate work."

SDUT 6/25/97, B2.

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Copyright © 1997-1999 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 21 November 1999.