City adds teeth to curfew ordinance by specifying penalties

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

The City of Brookhaven has added teeth to its curfew for minors.

In 2022, the Board of Aldermen implemented a curfew that took effect at midnight, Dec. 31 that year.

The ordinance states that, with certain exceptions, anyone under the age of 18 must not be out in public after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and after midnight Friday and Saturday, until 5:30 a.m. the following morning.

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In the more than 14 months since, penalties for breaking the curfew have not been expressly stated in a city ordinance. With the new penalties, Justice Court judges can opt to enforce the stated penalties in place of or in addition to any Court-mandated decisions.

The ordinance penalties clause states that anyone who willfully violates the curfew shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to detention or public service up to 48 hours; juvenile probation up to three months, which may include electronic monitoring; and/or a fine of $50 to $250.

Upon a second offense, the detention would extend up to five days; probation up to six months; and fine of $100 to $500. Third and subsequent offenses would increase penalties to a maximum of 10 days detention; probation up to 12 months; and a fine of $250 to $1,000. Any of the detention periods “may be suspended in whole or in part.”

The ordinance can also hold parents responsible for their minor children’s behavior.

“The Board of Aldermen further finds that any custodial parent of a juvenile who has, through said parent’s deliberate disregard for the welfare of said individual, caused the terms of the curfew … to be violated, shall be subject to prosecution … for having contributed to the delinquency of a minor.”

In September 2022, the Board of Aldermen determined that juveniles have repeatedly congregated at various places across the city, causing general disturbances and “contributing to an excessive number of incidents of drug and alcohol related crimes, thefts, homicides and assaults,” according to the ordinance.

Exceptions to the curfew are if the minor is with his or her parents; under adult supervision with parental permission; involved in a school, church, or organized sporting activity or traveling to or from it; or traveling to or from his or her employment.

The addition of the penalties was approved unanimously by the Board.