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Frank Jackson was voted a Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers.

Is a curfew violation serious enough to require a defense?

Do you really need to defend yourself against a minor crime like violating curfew? While you may not think it's that important, breaking curfew can be used against you in court, so it's best to avoid any violation on your record. In a worst-case scenario, you could go to jail for breaking curfew. Generally speaking, curfew violations are handled by the city or county government without such a punishment, but they are enacted to prevent crime and can carry serious penalties.

It's true that you may not be aware of your curfew in your area. City curfews may be legally enforceable but not enforced often, or they can be enforced strictly, depending on the area. Sometimes, school vacation days or summer break could be more carefully monitored by police. In any case, the curfew set is a law and city ordinance, making it important for you to follow the rules unless you're exempt.

Who is exempt from a curfew? Minors with their parents or guardians, those going to or coming home from work, those who have been at a school or religious event, those running errands for their parents or adults and those traveling due to emergencies are all exempt.

What happens if someone isn't exempt and breaks curfew? The laws vary, and the punishment can, too. Sometimes, a small fine is issued for breaking curfew. It may increase each time curfew is broken. Community service or after-school programs can be used as punishment, too. Restricting a driver's license is possible, and at worst, jail or juvenile hall can be used to punish offenders, resulting in a mark on the minor's criminal record.

Source: FindLaw, "Juvenile Curfew Laws - The Basics," accessed Aug. 26, 2015

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