City of Trenton, NJ
Mercer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Trenton 9-7-1967 as § 3-27 of the Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Graffiti — See Ch. 123.
Noise — See Ch. 167.
Parental responsibility — See Ch. 180.

§ 58-1 Findings and purpose.

The City Council of the City of Trenton hereby finds there has been a significant breakdown in the supervision normally provided by certain parents and guardians for juveniles under 18 years of age resulting in juveniles being involved in a wide range of unacceptable behavior including vandalism, noise and rowdy behavior, breaking and entering, public drinking and littering and harassment of residents.
The New Jersey Legislature recently enacted P.L. 1992, Chapter 132, which authorizes municipalities to adopt ordinances regulating the presence of minors in public places between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The Mayor and City Council concur with the sentiments of the New Jersey Legislature that regulation of a minor's access to public places during those stated hours is in the mutual best interests of the minor and society at large.
The City Council further finds that the offensive activities of the juveniles are not easily controlled by existing laws and ordinances because the activities are easily concealed whenever police officers are present and that the establishment of reasonable curfew regulations will enable the community to better control the free and unobstructed access to the streets and public places by the majority of residents and will enable the police to act reasonably and fairly to prevent the violation of laws and ordinances by juveniles.
The City Council further finds and has determined that a curfew meets a very real local need and that curfew ordinances in other communities have been a significant factor in minimizing juvenile delinquency. A curfew in Trenton is particularly appropriate in view of the basic residential nature of the community and the sense of the community that there is a proper time for the cessation of outdoor activities of juveniles. That sense of the community is reflected in the curfew hours declared by this chapter, which takes into consideration also the danger hours for nocturnal crime and for accumulations of juveniles with potential risks incident to immaturity.
The City Council further finds that the community is not overcrowded and that there has been a decrease in the school population over the past years. Commercial recreational facilities are limited and there is little or nothing for juveniles to do outdoors but roam the streets after the curfew hours which this chapter establishes.
Trenton is basically a family community. Parent responsibilities for the whereabouts of children is the accepted norm by a substantial majority of the community. Legal sanctions to enforce such responsibility have had a demonstrated effectiveness in many communities over the years. The City Council has determined that as parental control increases there is a likelihood that juvenile delinquency decreases, that there is a need for a nocturnal curfew for juveniles in Trenton and that the establishment of a curfew applicable to juveniles will reinforce the primary authority and responsibility of parents and guardians over juveniles in their care and custody.

§ 58-2 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms, phrases, words and their derivations shall have the meaning given herein:
Years of age continues from one birthday to, but not including the day of, the next, such that a person who has not completed 18 years of life is deemed to be 17 years of age.
A person other than a parent to whom legal custody of the juvenile has been given by court order, who is acting in the place of the parent or who is responsible for the care and welfare of the juvenile.
Any person under the age of 18 years old.
Any person having legal custody of a juvenile as:
A natural or adoptive parent.
A legal guardian.
A person who stands in loco parentis.
Any place to which the public has access, including but not limited to a public street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park, recreation, athletic or shopping area, public transportation facility, vehicle used for public transportation, parking lot or any other public building, structure or area.
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 juvenile involved would not be using the streets for ordinary or serious purposes such as mere passage or going home. To implement that thought with additional precision and precaution, numerous exceptions are expressly defined in this chapter so that this is not a mere prohibitory or presence-type curfew. More and more exceptions become available with increasing years and advancing maturity as appropriate in the interest of reasonable regulation.
A way or place, of whatsoever 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 term "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 for other grounds found within the legal right-of-way of a street. The term "street" shall also include shopping areas, parking lots, public buildings and similar areas that are open to the use of the public.
Time of night referred to herein is 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.

§ 58-3 Curfew established.

It shall be unlawful for juveniles to be in any public place between the hours of 11:59 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from July 1 through August 31, and between the hours of 9:59 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from September 1 through June 30 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

§ 58-4 Exemption to curfew restrictions.

The curfew established in § 58-3 above does not apply if the juvenile is:
Engaged in, or traveling to and from, a business or occupation which the laws of the State of New Jersey authorizes a juvenile to perform;
Engaged in an errand involving a medical emergency;
Attending religious services, approved school activities, activities sponsored by a religious or community based organization or other cultural, education or social events or in direct transit to or from such events; or
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. The juvenile shall evidence the bona fides of such exercise by first delivering to the person designated by the Police Director to receive such information at the Police Division Headquarters, North Clinton Avenue, a written communication, signed by the juvenile with his/her home address and telephone number, specifying when, where and in what manner the juvenile will be on the streets at night, during hours when the curfew restrictions are otherwise applicable to the minor, in the exercise of the First Amendment right describe in such communication.

§ 58-5 Parental responsibility.

It shall be unlawful for a parent having legal custody of a juvenile knowingly to permit or by inefficient control to allow the juvenile to be or remain upon any public place 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 juvenile in that parent's legal custody. It is intended to continue to keep neglectful or careless parents up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall, therefore, be no defense that the parent was completely indifferent to the activities or conduct or whereabouts of such juvenile.

§ 58-6 Enforcement procedures.

Review. Police procedures shall constantly be refined in the light of experience and may provide that the police officer may deliver to a parent or guardian thereof a juvenile under appropriate circumstances, for example, a juvenile of tender age near home whose identity and address may readily be ascertained or are known.
Reports. A police officer discharging an enforcement obligation under this chapter shall file a written report with the Police Director or shall participate to the extent of the information for which (s)he is responsible in the preparation of a report on the curfew violation. It is not the intention of this subsection 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.
Released juveniles. 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, except to the extent that in accordance with police regulation, approved in advance by juvenile authorities, the juvenile may temporarily be entrusted to an adult relative, neighbor or other person who will, in behalf of a parent or guardian, assume the responsibility of caring for the juvenile pending the availability or arrival of a parent or guardian.
Notification of parent; questioning of juvenile. If a police officer reasonably believes that a juvenile is on the streets in violation of this chapter, the officer shall notify the juvenile that (s)he is in violation of this chapter and shall require the juvenile to provide his/her name, address and telephone number and how to contact his/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 on the street shall, in the first instance, use his/her best judgment in determining age. The normal 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 they 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.
Notice of violation. In the case of a first violation by a juvenile, the Police Director shall, by certified mail, send to the parent or guardian of the minor written notice of the violation with a warning that any subsequent violation will result in full enforcement of the Curfew Ordinance (this Chapter 58), including enforcement of parental responsibility and of applicable penalties.

§ 58-7 Violations and penalties.

Any person. Any person found guilty of having violated § 58-3 or 58-5 shall perform community service and may be subject to a fine of an amount as provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty, and if parents or guardians are found guilty of having violated § 58-3 or 58-5, the parents or guardians shall perform community service together with the juvenile. The period of community service shall not exceed that provided in Chapter 1, Article III, General Penalty.
Juveniles with more than three violations. Any juvenile who shall violate any of the provisions of chapter more than three times shall be reported by the Police Director to the juvenile authorities as a juvenile in need of supervision, and the Police Director may proceed to file such charges with the Mercer County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court as (s)he may deem appropriate.

§ 58-8 Notice of existence of curfew.

Notice of the existence of this chapter and of the curfew regulations established by it shall be posted in, on or about such public or quasi-public places as may be determined by the Director of Public Safety in order that the public may be constantly informed of the existence of this chapter and its regulations.

§ 58-9 Continuing evaluation.

Review by Division of Public Safety. The Division of Public Safety shall be responsible for making period reviews of the practical aspects of enforcement and interpretation of this chapter and shall report to the City Council on all matters affecting the fair, uniform and lawful application and enforcement of this chapter including the need for clarification or relaxation of any term or provision contained herein, as well as the need for continued or discontinued curfew regulations. Whenever, in the opinion of the City Attorney or of any court, the application of this chapter to a particular act or activity of a minor is unclear or ambiguous, the less restrictive interpretation shall be deemed to be the intent of this chapter.
Review by City Council. The City Council will continue its evaluation and updating of this chapter.
Reports to City Council. There shall be compiled and informally reported to the City Council through effective channels, such as the normal memos distribution by the Director of Public safety, to the Mayor and to each Council member of noteworthy material, an account of all enforcement activity engaged in hereunder and as to all exceptional cases hereunder of reasonable necessity, the notices of school and other activities, the special permits and the regulations hereinbefore authorized, and the advisory opinions, for consideration by the City Council in further updating and continuing evaluation of this chapter.