[HISTORY: Adopted by The Mayor and Council of New Castle 7-14-2009 by Ord. No. 464. Amendments noted where applicable.]
For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meanings given herein:
- The City of New Castle, Delaware, with administrative offices at 220 Delaware Street, New Castle, Delaware.
- An unforeseen circumstance or combination of circumstances or the resulting condition which calls for immediate action. The term includes, but is not limited to, a fire, natural disaster or automobile accident or any situation requiring immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life or property.
- JUVENILE or MINOR
- Any unemancipated person under the age of 18 or, in equivalent phrasing often herein employed, any person 17 years of age or younger.
- Any person having legal custody of a juvenile:
- PUBLIC PLACE
- Any place to which the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, common areas of schools, shopping centers, parking lots, parks, playgrounds, transportation facilities, theaters, restaurants, shops, bowling alleys, taverns, cafes, arcades and similar areas that are open to the use of the public. As a type of public place, a street is a way or place, of whatever nature, open to the use of the public as a matter of right for purposes of vehicular travel or, in the case of a sidewalk thereof, for pedestrian travel. "Street" includes that legal right-of-way, including but not limited to the traffic lanes and their shoulders, the curb, the sidewalks, whether paved or unpaved, and any grass plots or other grounds found within the legal right-of-way of a street.
- TIME OF NIGHT
- Based upon the prevailing standard of time, whether Eastern standard time or Eastern daylight saving time, generally observed at that hour by the public in the City, prima facie the time then observed in the City administrative offices and police station.
From September 1 through May 31, it shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to be or remain in or upon a public place within the City of New Castle for the period ending at 5:00 a.m. and beginning:
From June 1 through August 31, it shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to be or remain in or upon a public place within the City of New Castle for the period ending at 5:00 a.m. and beginning at 12:00 midnight on all nights.
The following shall constitute valid exceptions to the operation of this chapter:
Accompanied by parent: when a juvenile is accompanied by a parent of such juvenile.
Errand directed, in writing, by parent: when the juvenile is on an errand as directed by his/her parent, provided that such juvenile shall have on his/her person a written note, signed by the juvenile's parent, stating:
Emergency: when a juvenile is assisting in an emergency, including, by way of example and not in limitation, responding as a member of a volunteer fire company to a fire company or paramedic call.
First Amendment rights: when a juvenile is 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, by first delivering to the person designated by the City's Chief of Police to receive such information a written communication, signed by the juvenile and countersigned, if practicable, by a parent of the juvenile, with his or her home address and telephone number, specifying when, where and in what manner the juvenile will be in a public place during hours when this chapter is applicable to said minor in the exercise of a First Amendment right specified in such communication.
Reasonable necessity: in case of reasonable necessity for the juvenile remaining in a public place, but only after the juvenile's parent has communicated to the Chief of Police, or the person designated by the Chief of Police to receive such notifications, the facts establishing the reasonable necessity relating to a specified public place at a designated time for a described purpose, including points of origin and destination. A copy of the communication, or of the police record thereof, duly certified by the Chief of Police to be correct, with an appropriate notation of the time it was received and of the names and addresses of the parent and juvenile, shall be admissible evidence.
On own or neighbor's property: when a juvenile is on the sidewalk or property where the juvenile resides, or on either side of or across the street from the place where the juvenile resides, and the adult owner or resident of that property has given permission for the juvenile to be there.
Returning home within one hour of official activity: when a juvenile is returning home from, and within one hour of, the termination or closing of an official school, religious or other recreational activity supervised by adults, sponsored by the City of New Castle, a recognized charitable, benevolent or civic association or a similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor.
Employment necessity: when the juvenile is legally employed, going to or returning home from employment, and carries a certified card of employment, renewable each calendar month when the current facts so warrant, dated or reissued not more than 45 days previously, signed by the parent and employer and briefly identifying the juvenile, the addresses and telephone numbers of the juvenile's home and of the juvenile's place of employment and the juvenile's hours of employment. The City shall prepare a form to be used by employers for purposes of this subsection.
Married: when the juvenile is married or has been married pursuant to state law.
Continuing consideration of exceptions. Each of the foregoing exceptions and their several limitations, such as provisions for notification, are severable, as hereinafter provided but here reemphasized, and will be considered by Council when warranted by future experience.
The foregoing exceptions to the operation of this chapter shall act only to create a waiver of enforcement and affirmative defense(s) to such enforcement. By authorizing such exceptions, neither the City nor any member of the Police Department shall assume any affirmative obligation or duty to supervise the well-being of any juvenile acting pursuant to such authorized exception.
It shall be unlawful for a parent having legal custody of a juvenile knowingly to permit or by ineffective control to allow the juvenile to remain in any City public place under circumstances not constituting an exception to, or otherwise beyond the scope of, this chapter. The term "knowingly" includes knowledge that a parent should reasonably be expected to have concerning the whereabouts of a juvenile in that parent's legal custody. This requirement is intended to hold a neglectful or careless parent up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall, therefore, be no defense that a parent was completely indifferent to the activities or conduct or whereabouts of such juvenile.
If a police officer reasonably believes that a juvenile is in a public place in violation of this chapter, the officer shall notify the juvenile that he or she is in violation of this chapter and shall require the juvenile to provide his or her name, address and telephone number and how to contact his or her parent or guardian. In determining the age of the juvenile and in the absence of convincing evidence, such as a birth certificate, a police officer shall, in the first instance of violation of the chapter, use his or her best judgment in determining age.
The police officer shall issue the juvenile a written warning that the juvenile is in violation of this chapter and shall order the juvenile to go promptly home. The Chief of Police shall send the parent or guardian of the juvenile written notice of the violation pursuant to § 108-4.
Police procedures shall constantly be refined in the light of experience and may provide that the police officer may deliver a juvenile to a parent or guardian thereof under appropriate circumstances; for example, a juvenile of tender age, near home, whose identity and address are known or may readily be ascertained. This subsection creates no responsibility or legal duty in any City official or police officer to return any such child to his or her parent or lawful custodian.
Notwithstanding Subsection B of this section, when a juvenile has received one previous written warning for violation of this chapter or a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the juvenile has engaged in delinquent conduct, the procedure shall then be to take the juvenile to the police station where a parent or guardian shall immediately be notified to come for the juvenile, whereupon the parent or guardian and the juvenile shall be questioned. This is intended to permit ascertainment, under constitutional safeguards, of relevant facts and to centralize responsibility in the person designated there and then on duty for accurate, effective, fair, impartial and uniform enforcement and recording, thus making available experienced personnel and access to information and records.
When a parent or guardian, immediately called, has come to take charge of the juvenile and the appropriate information has been recorded, the juvenile shall be released to the custody of such parent. If the parent cannot be located or fails to take charge of the juvenile, then the juvenile shall be released to the juvenile authorities, such as the Division of Family Services of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, except to the extent that, in accordance with police regulations approved in advance by juvenile authorities, the juvenile may temporarily be entrusted to an adult, neighbor or other person who will on behalf of a parent or guardian assume the responsibility of caring for the juvenile pending the availability or arrival of a parent or guardian.
In the case of a first violation of this chapter by a juvenile, the Chief of Police shall, by certified mail, send to a parent or guardian written notice of the violation, with a warning that any subsequent violation will result in full enforcement of this chapter, including enforcement of parental responsibility and of applicable penalties.
In any event the police officer shall, within 24 hours, file a written report with the Chief of Police or shall participate, to the extent of the information for which he or she is responsible, in the preparation of a report on the curfew violation. It is not the intention of this section to require extensive reports that will prevent police officers from performing their primary police duties. The reports shall be as simple as is reasonably possible and may be completed by Police Departmental personnel other than sworn police officers.
If, after the warning notice pursuant to § 108-5 of a first violation by a juvenile, a parent violates § 108-4 (in connection with a second violation by the juvenile), this shall be treated as a first offense by the parent. For the first offense by a parent, the fine shall be $100, and for each subsequent offense by a parent the fine shall be increased by an additional $25; e.g., $125 for the second offense and $150 for the third offense. Any court of competent jurisdiction, upon finding a parent guilty hereof, shall sentence the parent to pay this fine and the cost of prosecution.
The parent or legal guardian having custody of a juvenile subject to this section shall be liable for all costs incurred by the City of New Castle for providing personnel to remain in the company of a juvenile who has been detained as a curfew violator if the parent or guardian does not pick up the juvenile within one hour after receiving notice from the City that the City is detaining the juvenile for a curfew violation. The amount to be paid by the parent or guardian shall be based on the hourly wage of the City employee who is assigned to remain with the juvenile plus the cost of benefits for that employee.
The parent or legal guardian having custody of a juvenile subject to this section shall be liable for any fine or condition of restitution or reparation imposed by a court upon a curfew violator, provided that the curfew violator has not paid the fine or made restitution or reparation within the time ordered by the court and further provided that the parent or legal guardian has been made a party defendant in all enforcement proceedings against the curfew violator and has been served with all citations, summons, complaints, notices and other documents required to be served on the curfew violator defendant.
Juveniles. Any juvenile who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter more than three times shall be reported by the Chief of Police to the juvenile authorities, such as the Division of Family Services of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, as a juvenile in need of supervision, and the Chief of Police may proceed to file such charges with the courts as he or she may deem appropriate.
The City Council shall continue its evaluation and revision of this chapter through methods including but not limited to the following:
Within six months after the implementation of this chapter, the Chief of Police shall provide the City Council with a report concerning the effect of this chapter on crimes committed by and against minors and of the number of warnings issued and arrests of minors and parents hereunder and such other information as Council may request.
On a regular basis, the City Council shall receive informal reports of all exceptional cases hereunder, the notices of school and other activities, the special permits and the regulations authorized above and the advisory opinions for consideration by the Council in further updating and continuing evaluation of this chapter.