When you were a kid, curfew was when it got dark outside. As a teenager, it was before midnight. But now that you're an adult, can anyone tell you what time you have to be home?
As it turns out, there could be some curfew laws that apply to adults. State and local governments may institute emergency curfews, municipalities can have business curfew ordinances, and some apartment complexes have been trying to enforce curfews on tenants. Here's how curfew laws for adults work.
Emergency Curfew Laws
Federal, state, or local governments can issue temporary curfews in response to a state of emergency like a natural disaster or ongoing civil disturbance. Most recently, Baltimore instituted a city-wide emergency curfew in response to protests that the mayor described as rioting. This authority is usually found in the city charter or statutes, which give mayors and elected officials the power to take certain curfew-related actions in response to a local emergency.
Even universities can institute curfews in response to emergencies, like Texas Southern's curfew following a fatal shooting. Generally, the institution or government entity ordering the curfew must make some finding that there is some risk to public safety and the curfew must be clearly defined and restricted to limit that risk.
Cities and municipalities may also have business curfew laws that require certain businesses like restaurants, liquor stores, and other establishments where people may gather in high-crime areas to close during late-night hours. Normally, these businesses curfews don't apply to late-night pharmacies and bars, and may only be enforced in response to an increased incidence of local crime or violence.
Recently, many apartment complexes have tried instituting curfews on residents as an effort to deter crime on the property. The legality of residential restrictions may depend on the terms included in the rental agreement or lease and local or state landlord-tenant laws.
Parole and Probation Curfews
It's also possible that a curfew could be part of the conditions for probation, parole, or house arrest. Courts have generally deferred to states in setting conditions for sentencing or supervised release from prison, and a condition such as a curfew will likely be legal.
If you're subject to a curfew, or have been arrested for violating a curfew as an adult, you should probably talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney near you.