Although minors living in Colorado are free to move about, that movement is not without restriction. In addition to any restrictions placed on them by their parents, minors must also comply with the laws where they live. This means that if their hometown has instituted a curfew requiring them to be home by a certain hour of the day, they must comply or face the legal consequences, such as fines.
Purpose of Curfew Laws
Curfew laws were enacted in Colorado to help keep minors under the age of 18 out of trouble and deter them from committing crimes. Such laws apply to minors once they are outside their homes in a public space, such as a local park, grocery store or traveling on local roads. Generally, they cannot be in these public spaces after a certain time, such as 9 p.m. However, exceptions to these restrictions may exist, such as when a minor is returning home from work or a school event.
Curfew Laws Enacted by Local Jurisdictions
Colorado does not have a statewide curfew law, but many cities include curfews for minors in their municipal codes. For example, under the Colorado Springs loitering law, it is unlawful for a minor to loiter or aimlessly drive or ride about in such places as a public or private roadway, sidewalk, park, playground, or eating establishment between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from midnight to 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. This law doesn't apply if the minor has permission to be in that place or is accompanied by a parent or other adult 21 or older. The City of Arvada's curfew prohibits minors from being out in public during the same hours as Colorado Springs, but those under 14 are required to be home by 10 p.m. every night. Exceptions to the curfew include minors on an emergency errand for a parent and going to or returning from an activity where they exercised their First Amendment free speech, freedom of religion or freedom of assembly rights.
Punishment for Violating Curfew
The punishment a minor will face for violating curfew also varies among jurisdictions. For example, a minor in Douglas County can be charged with a Class II Petty Offense if he is found in public between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., unless his actions are excepted, such as having written consent from a parent. The punishment for curfew violation in this county is a fine of up to $1,000. In contrast, minors out between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays or between midnight and 5 a.m. Fridays through Saturdays in violation of Denver's curfew face a fine of approximately $125.
Adults May Also Be Accountable
Minors are not the only ones that can be punished for violating curfew rules. In many cities and counties, if a parents or guardians knowingly allow a minor to violate curfew without an excusable reason, they can also be punished under the same law. For example, in both Douglas County and the city of Denver, the minor and adult can both be fined for the minor's curfew violation.
Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.