LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) — Beginning on Friday at 8:00 a.m., a city-wide curfew for anyone under the age of 18 will be enforced in Lynchburg. The newly approved ordinance hopes to protect the public by reducing juvenile violence and crime within the Hill City.
Lynchburg City Council approved the curfew, which will be in effect every night from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., beginning May 26 until December 1, 2023.
According to the adopted ordinance, it is unlawful for a minor, during curfew hours, to be in a public place, motor vehicle, or establishment.
There are acceptions to the ordinance if the minor is:
*During Tuesday's City Council Work Session, Councilman Martin Misjuns asked Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema whether or not the "right of assembly" could be used as a loophole to evade the ordinance. Chief Zuidema says that the right of assembly "has to pass a reasonableness text." LPD officers will need to determine this on a case-by-case basis, and enforcement will be left to the discretion of the officer.
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“The goal of the curfew is to assist community youth who might be at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of crime,” said Chief Ryan Zuidema. “Our goal is to ensure public safety for all of our residents through cooperative community partnerships and by reducing the opportunity for violent crime after hours without increasing unnecessary interactions with the youth of our community.”
Parents are not exempt from this ordinance, which states that it is unlawful for a minor's parent to knowingly permit, allow or encourage their child to violate the curfew.
Other violations include the following:
The ordinance also states that it is unlawful for anyone (including minors) to give a false name, address, or phone number to any officer investigating a possible violation of the curfew. During Tuesday's City Council Work Session, Chief Zuidema said it is well within his officers' authority to detain someone who will not identify themselves.
“Until we can prove you’re 18, we’re going to contact someone who can prove you’re 18,” Zuidema said.
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If an LPD officer's investigation finds that a minor has violated the curfew, then the officer can charge the minor and may issue a summons requiring the minor to appear in court. Where necessary, the officer will release the minor to their parent(s).
A violation of the curfew is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor, which is the lowest level criminal offense in Virginia. Class 4 misdemeanors do not carry jail time and are generally punishable by a fine of up to $250.
The full ordinance is available below: