Ask a Cop: What Are Juvenile Curfew Laws?

Have a question for the Sheriff's Office? Let us know.

Is there anything you have ever wanted to know from the police department? Well, this is your chance to ask. We will be teaming up with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies from around the county to answer your questions.

Whether you have a question about certain laws and how they might affect you, your family or friends or how to stay safe in certain situations, we want you to ask them. Every week we will run one question and answer. To submit a question, email Shannon.burkey@patch.com.


Some of my teenage children's classmates have been stopped for breaking curfew. Do curfews vary from city to city? What is the local curfew? 
I'm not opposed to curfew laws being enforced, but it seems like compliance with the laws would be easier if the laws were better known.


Juvenile curfews are similar from city to city, and in the county jurisdictions. The welfare of minors is a priority for law enforcement agencies, and a primary responsibility for parents. Officers contact juveniles during the “curfew” hours, to determine their safety, and if “curfew” is being violated. In past situations, juveniles have advised the peace officer that their parents knew where they were, only to find when the officer contacted the parents, their children had lied to them about where they were going to be and who they were with. 

The purpose of a youth curfew is to protect the welfare of minors, decrease juvenile violence, juvenile gang activity, and crime by persons under the age of 18. Juveniles are susceptible to becoming victims of perpetrators of crimes, or participating in unlawful activities during the late night hours. 

The exceptions for the municipal “curfew” code are; if the minor is accompanied by a parent or guardian, on an errand by the direction of a parent or guardian, involved in travel, engaged in lawful employment, going to or returning home from a lawful employment activity, acting in response to an emergency, returning home from a school, cultural, sport, amusement, entertainment, movie, recreation activity, meeting or similar activity, waiting at a train or bus station for transportation. 

In Scotts Valley, the curfew municipal code (9.04.020) states, “It is unlawful for an unemancipated minor (under the age of 18 years) to tarry in any public place between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m."  A “public place” is any outdoor area to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access, including, but not limited to streets, highways, sidewalks, alleys, parks, playgrounds or other public grounds; and the outdoor common areas of establishments, including but not limited to, entryways and parking lots. 

Any questions regarding city, or county codes, in your area: do an internet search on “Name city municipal codes” (ie: Scotts Valley city municipal codes) or “Name county municipal codes” and get a complete listing. 

~April Skalland, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office

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