A closely divided Florida Supreme Court struck down two juvenile-curfew laws in Southwest Florida on Thursday, jeopardizing similar ones throughout the state, including one in Miami-Dade County that served as a model for others statewide, reports the Miami Herald. In the 4-3 opinion, the majority of justices said the laws in Tampa and neighboring Pinellas Park were too broad because they targeted minors who committed no other crime than being night owls, and because they criminally punished parents and even shop owners who condoned or couldn’t control kids’ curfew-breaking.
The 91-page opinion and its dissents concern a number of municipalities in Florida that passed juvenile curfew laws after Miami-Dade’s ordinance survived a challenge at the appellate court level in the mid-1990s. Key West, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale have laws similar to those in Miami-Dade, Tampa and Pinellas Park. All have slightly different language but seek the same thing: to keep minors off the streets after 11 p.m. or midnight. The other laws may stay on the books unless challenged.