Sunday, May 19, 2013
Can parents exempt their kids from Cinnaminson Township's Curfew?
Like many New Jersey municipalities, Cinnaminson Township (Burlington County) has a juvenile curfew ordinance that prohibits juveniles under the age of seventeen from being in public after 10:30 p.m. on week nights and midnight on weekends. The ordinance is on-line here.
Unlike most curfew ordinances, Cinnaminson's contains an exception for juveniles who are out after hours "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. "
In order to qualify for the exemption, however, the juvenile must provide the local police written notice, 24 hours in advance, "signed by the juvenile and countersigned by a parent . . . specifying when, where and in what manner the juvenile will be on the street at night . . . in the exercise of the First Amendment rights specified in such communication."
Thus, any Cinnaminson parent who objects to the curfew could apparently permanently exempt his or child from the ordinance by simply having the juvenile write a letter to the police stating: "Starting 24 hours after your receipt of this letter, which is countersigned by my parent, and extending until my seventeenth birthday, will be in public at hours prohibited by the Township's curfew ordinance. During those hours, I will be speaking to people I meet and urging them to demand from the Cinnaminson mayor and governing body a full repeal of the curfew ordinance. Since I will be engaging in core political speech, which is protected by both the state and federal constitutions, I am exempted from the curfew by Ord. section 237-4(c). Please instruct all Cinnaminson police officers to not interfere with my activity if they observe me in public during prohibited hours."