Posted on August 21, 2022

When Is Curfew For Children In Illinois?

Curfew is “[a] regulation that forbids people (or certain classes of them, such as minors) from being outdoors or in vehicles at certain hours.” Black’s Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019)

Like my mother always said, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight. So, be home by then.”

Illinois has a state curfew statute and numerous local municipal citations that govern curfew regulations.

“Illinois curfew law properly further[s] the State’s valid interest in protecting its children.” Village of Deerfield v. Greenberg, 550 NE 2d 12 – Ill: Appellate Court, 2nd Dist. 1990

“The [Illinois curfew] statute proceeds upon the basic assumption that when a child is at home during the late night and early morning hours, [the child] is protected from physical as well as moral dangers” People v. Chambers (1976), 66 Ill.2d 36, 360 N.E.2d 55

What Is Curfew In Illinois?

“A minor commits a curfew offense when he or she remains in any public place or on the premises of any establishment during curfew hours.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(a)(1)

Only children 16 years and under are subject to Illinois’ curfew statute.

“”Minor” means any person under 17 years of age” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(d)(4)

In Illinois, “Curfew hours” means:(A)Between 12:01 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Saturday;(B)Between 12:01 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on Sunday; and(C)Between 11:00 p.m. on Sunday to Thursday, inclusive, and 6:00 a.m. on the following day.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(d)(1)

Breaking curfew is not a big deal in Illinois. You can’t even go to jail for it.

“A violation of this [the Illinois curfew law] is a petty offense with a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $500” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(e)

“”Petty offense” means any offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and for which a sentence of imprisonment is not an authorized disposition.” 705 ILCS 135

“The Curfew Act…only authorizes a fine as a sentence” People v. BRADLEY M., 815 NE 2d 1209 – Ill: Appellate Court, 3rd Dist. 2004

Defenses To Curfew Violations In Illinois

If a child is caught out at night, all the chld has to do is go home and they are no longer guilty of breaking curfew.

To be guilty of breaking curfew in Illinois you must “remain in a public place.”

“Remain” means to: (A) linger or stay; or (B) fail to leave premises when requested to do so by a police officer or the owner, operator, or other person in control of the premises.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(d)(8)

A minor can just leave or say they are leaving and no longer be in violation of curfew in Illinois.

Furthermore, the minor can just claim one of the nine below defenses to avoid a charge of curfew in Illinois.

“It is a defense to prosecution under subsection (a) that the minor was: (1) accompanied by the minor’s parent or guardian or other person in custody or control of the minor; (2) on an errand at the direction of the minor’s parent or guardian, without any detour or stop; (3) in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel; (4) engaged in an employment activity or going to or returning home from an employment activity, without any detour or stop; (5) involved in an emergency; (6) on the sidewalk abutting the minor’s residence or abutting the residence of a next-door neighbor if the neighbor did not complain to the police department about the minor’s presence; (7) attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by a government or governmental agency, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by a government or governmental agency, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor; (8) exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly; or (9) married or had been married or is an emancipated minor under the Emancipation of Minors Act.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(b) (emphasis mine)

“[E]xercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly?” Um, isn’t this everything? Just start talking about politics or religion and, voila, you are no longer violating curfew.

Parents Can Be Charged With Curfew Violations In Illinois

Realistically, the parent should be the person held responsible for letting their child out past midnight.

“A parent or guardian of a minor or other person in custody or control of a minor commits a curfew offense when he or she knowingly permits the minor to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment during curfew hours.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(a)(2)

“By providing a sanction against the parent who knowingly permits a child to violate the statute, the cooperation of the parent is commanded. That sanction may also operate indirectly to enlist cooperation from the child, who may be willing to risk getting into trouble himself, but unwilling to involve his parents in a violation of the law. Parental control is thereby strengthened.” People v. Chambers (1976), 66 Ill.2d 36, 360 N.E.2d 55

For divorcing or divorced parents, the curfew law is a fine example of what is clearly in the best interests of their children. It is clearly in the best interests of the children for the children not to be breaking the law.

Municipal Ordinances And Curfew In Illinois

“County, municipal and other local boards and bodies authorized to adopt local police laws and regulations under the constitution and laws of this State may exercise legislative or regulatory authority over this subject matter by ordinance or resolution incorporating the substance of this Section or increasing the requirements thereof or otherwise not in conflict with this Section.” 720 ILCS 5/12C-60(f)

For example, in Chicago the curfew hours are much tighter than the Illinois state standard.

“[In Chicago, ]“[c]urfew hours” means:

         (A)   For minors 12 years of age or older, 10:00 p.m. on any day until 6:00 a.m. of the following day; and

         (B)   For minors younger than 12 years of age, 8:30 P.M. on any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday until 6:00 A.M. of the following day; and

         (C)   For minors younger than 12 years of age, 9:00 P.M. on any Friday or Saturday and until 6:00 A.M. of the following day.” 8-16-020 Curfew hours for minors, Chicago, IL municipal ordinances.

Your local curfew ordinance will likely mirror the Illinois state statute 720 ILCS 5/12C-60because no municipal ordinance can conflict with at state statute.

“Municipal ordinances must be in harmony with the laws of the State, and in case of a conflict the ordinance must give way” Dean Milk Co. v. City of Chicago (1944), 385 Ill. 565, 574, 53 N.E.2d 612, 616

Kids should be at home at night unless they are with a parent. If your child’s other parent is letting your child run the streets at night, you need to put a stop to it. But, do not get your child in trouble…get that parent in trouble. In fact, remove their ability to exercise parenting time at night until everyone is assured that the child is, in fact, at home at night. To learn more contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm to discuss this issue with an experienced Illinois family law attorney.

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Russell Knight

Russell D. Knight has been practicing family law as a Chicago divorce lawyer since 2006. Russell D. Knight amicably resolves tough cases while remaining a strong advocate for his client’s interests.

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