[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Bellefonte 6-6-1977 by Ord. No. 786 (Ch. 648 of the 1979 Codified Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Curfew Ordinance."
This chapter is an updating of the Borough Curfew Ordinance of July 26, 1943, prescribing, in accordance with prevailing community standards, regulations for the conduct of minors on streets at night, effectively enforced, taught in the homes, internalized and adhered to for generations, all for the good of minors, for the furtherance of family responsibility and for the public good, safety and welfare.
Council finds that the curfew meets a very real local need, has been over the years a significant factor in minimizing juvenile delinquency and should be updated and amplified in the light of the Borough's local situation and facts, including the following: The Borough is the oldest community in Centre County, with clearly defined boundaries. It has near its Police Station a central business district. It is a residential community. After 9:00 p.m. in this quiet community, as its people say, the sidewalks are rolled up. This community sense of the proper time for cessation of outdoor activities by minors on the streets is reflected in the curfew hours declared by this chapter. Consideration is also given to the danger hours for nocturnal crime and for accumulation of minors with potential risks incident to immaturity.
Council finds that the Borough is not overcrowded. Population density, as reflected in the Borough Comprehensive Plan, varies by neighborhoods. The total area is given in acres. Streets occupy acres, acres are devoted to public and semipublic uses, residential land use predominates and single-family dwellings occupy the largest portion of the residential area. Adequate indoor living space permits minors in the Borough to occupy their time healthfully. Public parks and the public swimming pool maintained by the Borough cease operation at 9:00 p.m., prevailing time. Commercial recreational facilities are almost nonexistent, and there is little or nothing for minors to do outdoors but roam the streets after the curfew hours which this chapter declares.
The Borough is a stable family community. Parental responsibility for the whereabouts of children is the norm. Legal sanctions to enforce such responsibility have had a demonstrated effectiveness over the years, inasmuch as parental control increases the likelihood of a reduction in the incidence of juvenile delinquency. Therefore, there is a continuing need for the nocturnal curfew for minors which has achieved and will continue to achieve under local conditions the purposes hereinbefore stated.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Continues from one birthday, such as the 17th, to, but not including the day of, the next, such as the 18th birthday, making it clear that 17 or less years of age is herein treated as equivalent to the phrase "under 18 years of age." As another example, 11 or less years of age means "under 12 years of age."
- Any person under the age of 18 years or, in equivalent phrasing often herein employed, any person 17 years of age or under.
- Any person having legal custody of a minor:
- PREVAILING TIME
- The prevailing standard of time, whether Eastern standard time or Eastern daylight saving time, generally observed at that hour by the public in the Borough; prima facie, the time then observed in the Borough administrative offices and Police Station.
- To stay behind, to tarry and to stay unnecessarily upon the streets, including the congregating of groups (or of interacting minors) totaling four or more persons in which any minor involved would not be using the streets for ordinary or serious purposes such as mere passage or going home.
- A way or place of any 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. The word "street" includes the legal right-of-way, including, but not limited to, the cartway or traffic lanes, 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. The term "street" applies irrespective of what it is called or formally named, whether alley, avenue, court, road or otherwise.
No person 17 or less years of age (under 18) shall be or remain in or upon any street in the Borough at night during the period ending at 6:00 a.m. and beginning:
In the following exceptional cases, a minor on a Borough street during the nocturnal hours for which § 244-4 is intended to provide the maximum limits of regulation and a clear general guide for minors, their parents and their fellow citizens, shall not, however, be considered in violation of § 244-4:
When accompanied by a parent of such minor;
When accompanied by an adult authorized by a parent of such minor to take such parent's place in accompanying such minor for a designated period of time and purpose within a specified area;
When 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. Such minor shall evidence the bona fides of such exercise by first delivering to Police Communications Center personnel at the Municipal Building on West Lamb Street, where and by whom high priority messages to the Mayor are regularly received, a written communication, signed by such minor and countersigned, if practical, by a parent of such minor, with his or her home address and telephone number, addressed to the Mayor, specifying when, where and in what manner such minor will be on the streets at night, during hours otherwise prohibited by this chapter, in the exercise of a First Amendment right specified in such communication.
In a case of reasonable necessity, but only after such minor's parent has communicated to Borough Police Station personnel the facts establishing such reasonable necessity relating to specified streets at a designated time for a described purpose, including points of origin and destination. A copy of such 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 address of such parent and minor, shall be admissible evidence.
When the minor is on the sidewalk of the place where such minor resides or on the sidewalk of either next-door neighbor not communicating an objection to the police officer;
When returning home by a direct route from and within 30 minutes of the termination of a school activity or an activity of a religious or other voluntary association, of which prior notice, indicating the place and probable time of termination, has been given in writing to, and duly filed for immediate reference by, the Chief of Police or the officer assigned by him on duty at the Police Station, thus encouraging, here as in other exceptional situations, conduct on the part of minors involved in such activities and striking a fair balance for any somewhat conflicting interests.
When authorized by special permit from the Mayor, carried on the person of the minor thus authorized, as follows: When normal or necessary nighttime activities of a minor may be inadequately provided for by other provisions of this chapter, then recourse may be had to the Mayor, either for a regulation as provided in Subsection H hereof or for a special permit, as the circumstances warrant. Upon the Mayor's finding of necessity for the use of the streets to the extent warranted by a written application, signed by a minor and by a parent of such minor, if feasible, stating the name, age and address of such minor; the name, address and telephone number of a parent thereof; the height, weight, sex, color of eyes and hair and other physical characteristics of such minor; the necessity which requires such minor to remain upon the streets during the curfew hours otherwise applicable; and the street or route and the beginning and end of the period of time involved, by date and hour, the Mayor may grant a permit in writing for the use by such minor of such hours as in the Mayor's opinion may reasonably be necessary. In an emergency, this may be handled by telephone or other effective communication, with a corresponding record being made contemporaneously, either to the Mayor or, if unavailable, to the police officer authorized by the Mayor to act on his behalf in an emergency at the Police Station.
When authorized by regulation issued by Council and approved by the Mayor, in other similar cases of reasonable necessity, similarly handled, for nighttime activities of more minors than can readily be dealt with on an individual special permit basis. Such regulation by the Mayor permitting use of the streets shall be issued sufficiently in advance, if possible, to permit appropriate publicity through news media and through other agencies, such as the schools, and shall define the activity, the scope of the use of the streets permitted, the period of time involved, which is not to extend more than 30 minutes beyond the time for termination of such activity, and the reason for finding that such regulation is reasonably necessary and is consistent with the public interest and the purposes of this chapter.
When the minor 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 Chief of Police and briefly identifying the minor, the address of his home and his place of employment and his hours of employment.
When the minor is, with parental consent, in a motor vehicle. This contemplates normal travel. From excess of caution, this clearly exempts bona fide interstate movement through the Borough. This also exempts interstate travel beginning or ending in the Borough.
No parent having legal custody of a minor shall knowingly permit or, by inefficient control, allow such minor to be or remain upon any Borough street under circumstances not constituting an exception to, or otherwise beyond the scope of, this chapter. The term "knowingly" includes knowledge which a parent should reasonably be expected to have concerning the whereabouts of a minor in that parent's legal custody. It is intended to continue to keep neglectful and/or careless parents up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall, a fortiori, be no defense that a parent was completely indifferent to the activities, conduct or whereabouts of such minor.
A policeman of the Borough, upon finding or having attention called to any minor on the streets in prima facie violation of this chapter, normally shall take the minor to the Borough Police Station, where a parent shall immediately be notified to come for such minor, whereupon they shall be interrogated. This is intended to permit ascertainment, under constitutional safeguards, of relevant facts, and to centralize responsibility in the officer there and then on duty for accurate, effective, fair, impartial and uniform enforcement and recording. In the absence of convincing evidence, such as a birth certificate, a policeman on the street shall, in the first instance, use his best judgment in determining age.
Police procedures shall constantly be refined in the light of experience and may provide, inter alia, that the policeman may deliver to a parent thereof a minor under appropriate circumstances; for example, a minor of tender age near home whose identity and address may readily be ascertained or are known.
In any event, such policeman 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 is responsible, in the preparation, by himself and the officer involved in such case, and in the filing of such report, within 24 hours.
When a parent, immediately called, has come to take charge of the minor, and the appropriate information has been recorded, the minor shall be released to the custody of such parent. If the parent cannot be located or fails to take charge of the minor, then the minor shall be released to the juvenile authorities, except to the extent that, in accordance with police regulations, approved in advance by juvenile authorities, the minor may temporarily be entrusted to a relative, neighbor or other person who will, on behalf of a parent, assume the responsibility of caring for the minor pending the availability or arrival of a parent.
In the case of a first violation by a minor, the Chief of Police shall, by certified mail, send to a parent written notice of such 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.
From excess of caution, the Mayor is hereby authorized to give advisory opinions, in writing or immediately reduced to writing, which shall be binding and shall be adhered to by the police until this chapter is amended in such respect, interpreting terms, phrases, parts or any provision of this chapter. Normally, such advisory opinions shall be in response to good faith, signed letters addressed to him at the Municipal Building, questioning as ambiguous or as having a potentially chilling effect on constitutional rights specifically invoked, or as otherwise invalid, in all three categories with respect to proposed conduct definitely described. This administrative remedy must be exhausted prior to presenting to any court a question in any of the three categories. Council does not intend a result that is absurd, impossible of execution or unreasonable. It is intended that this chapter be held inapplicable in such cases, if any, where its application would be unconstitutional. A constitutional construction is intended and shall be given. Council does not intend to violate the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the Constitution of the United States of America.
Council will continue its evaluation and updating of this chapter. Accordingly, there shall be compiled and informally reported to Council, through effective channels, such as the normal monthly distribution by the Borough Manager and the Borough Secretary, to each Councilman, the Mayor and the Borough Solicitor, of noteworthy material, all exceptional cases hereunder of reasonable necessity, the notices of school and other activities, the Mayor's special permits and the Mayor's regulations hereinbefore authorized, and the Mayor's advisory opinions, for consideration by the appropriate committee and by Council in further updating and continuing the evaluation of this chapter.
For the same reasons, as well as for the implementation beyond these legal aspects of the basic purposes hereof, the Mayor and relevant committees of Council, through their respective chairmen in coordinated efforts, shall work with existing volunteer groups and may organize additional volunteer groups and shall stimulate volunteer leadership in programs of research and of action dealing constructively on neighborhood and local bases with juvenile delinquency and the prevention, control or containment thereof, in all its ramifications, and with practical steps toward the good life, and a better life, for minors 17 or less years of age, and with the working of this chapter, community-wise and in individual cases, as one much needed legal tool toward that end as well as for continuing present protection of minors and of other persons, and of property and other interests, important to the welfare of the people of the Borough.
[Amended 2-19-1979 by Ord. No. 818]
If, after a warning notice to a parent pursuant to § 244-7 of a first violation of a minor, a parent violates § 244-6 (in connection with a second violation by such minor), this shall be treated as a first offense by the parent. For such first parental offense, the parent shall be fined $25 and for each subsequent parental offense the fine shall be increased by an additional $25, e.g., $50 for the second, $75 for the third, $100 for the fourth, $125 for the fifth and so on, to a maximum of $300, as permitted by law. Each offense after a fine of $300 is reached shall be punishable by a fine of $300. The Magisterial District Judge, upon finding a parent guilty, shall sentence such parent to pay the fine and the costs of prosecution. In addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, the Magisterial District Judge may order such parent to be imprisoned in the County Jail for not more than 10 days for any offense or violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or for any subsequent offense or violation of any of the provisions of this chapter.
In addition thereto, any minor who violates any of the provisions of this chapter more than three times shall be reported by the Mayor to a society or organization whose purpose it is to take charge of incorrigibles and delinquents, and proceedings shall be taken under the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301, before the Juvenile Court for the treatment, supervision and rehabilitation of such minor.
In the alternative, or at any time in addition to the penalties hereinbefore provided for, the Mayor may proceed directly to the proper juvenile authority under the provisions of Subsection B hereof in any case where the imposing of a fine or imprisonment upon a parent will not be effective or where for any other reason the provisions of this chapter cannot be made effective by the imposing of penalties under this section.