Mesquite City Council Votes to Continue Juvenile Curfew Ordinance

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Since 1994, Mesquite has lived under an ordinance that makes it unlawful for people under seventeen to be in any public place or establishment from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The Mesquite City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 7 to retain its juvenile curfew ordinance and maintain a fine of up to $500 for violation by minors, businesses, and parents. A person under seventeen, a parent, or an establishment found guilty of the Class C misdemeanor could pay up to $500 in fine.

Since the establishment of the ordinance back in 1994, the council has reviewed and upheld the law every three years.

There is potential for punitive sanctions, but generally speaking, what officers do is take the juvenile home, deliver them to their parents and explain what the law is,” Mesquite interim police chief David Faaborg said to the city council.

The ordinance is an attempt for Mesquite as well as some other surrounding cities to fight youth crime. The ordinance conveys that minors lack “maturity and experience” and “are particularly susceptible to participating in unlawful and gang-related activities and to be victims of older perpetrators of crime.”

According to Farborg, the Mesquite Police Department has issued 30 citations for curfew violations so far in 2021. “That’s usually for an egregious violation, or they’re committing some other mischief. We generally look for opportunities to educate people rather than enforce the ordinance. We just want to keep the kids safe,” he said.

During the public hearing, Faaborg listed out the defenses a person under seventeen could provide for violating the curfew. They include traveling to and from work, being on an errand for a parent, attending an official school, religious or other recreational activity supervised by adults, being involved in an emergency, or exercising their First Amendments rights.

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