Youth Curfews Struck Down By MA High Court


Massachusetts’ highest court has struck down a local ordinance that made it a crime for children under 17 to violate a curfew, the Boston Globe reports. The ruling is expected to affect other Massachusetts communities that have adopted or are considering similar local laws. The Supreme Judicial Court said the criminal penalties minors faced in Lowell for violating the 1994 law, including arrest and potential commitment to state custody, were too broad to pass constitutional muster, even if the city had legitimate public safety goals.

“The criminal processes and punishments provided in the ordinance [] contradict well-established goals of rehabilitating, not incarcerating, juvenile offenders,'' Justice Robert J. Cordy wrote for the court. The court left intact civil penalties for violators of the ordinance, which requires juveniles to be home from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with some exceptions. Those penalties are a $50 fine and a notice to parents or guardians. It was the first time a Massachusetts court ruled on whether juvenile curfews are legal.

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