Starting April 1, the City of Fairfield will be enforcing a curfew for minors 17 and under. The curfew was passed by the Fairfield City Council in February. The reason for this curfew is due to an increase in acts of vandalism and juveniles roaming the streets at night. Since this curfew is new to many in the city, here are a few frequently asked questions about the new curfew ordinance.
When does the curfew begin?
The city will start enforcing the curfew on April 1.
Why is the city implementing this curfew?
The reason for this curfew is due to an increase in acts of vandalism and instances of juveniles roaming the streets. Without the curfew ordinance, officers can ask these juveniles to go home, and this gives police an option to take these juveniles home.
Do other cities have a curfew?
Yes, most cities do. In fact, Fairfield was the last city in Freestone County to institute a curfew.
Where will this curfew take place?
This curfew will be in effect inside city limits, including the park, city streets, and businesses.
Is this curfew due to COVID-19?
No. This curfew for juveniles is due to acts of vandalism and instances of juveniles roaming the streets. Although some cities have enacted curfews due to COVID-19, the pandemic is not a reason for the curfew. The curfew is to curtail juvenile crime.
What are the hours of the curfew?
The curfew is from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sundays through Thursdays. On weekends, Friday and Saturday, the curfew hours are from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m.
Are there exceptions to the curfew?
Yes, there are. There are exceptions to the curfew. The exceptions are for:
1. Minors accompanied by a parent.
2. Minors running an errand for a parent. (The minor has to have a note from a parent stating the errant and giving consent.)
3. Minors in a vehicle engaging in interstate travel
4. Minors engaged in an employment activity
5. Minors involved in an emergency circumstance
6. Minors on the sidewalk in front of their residence or at a nextdoor neighbor if the neighbor has not complained about the minor's presence
7. Minors attending an official school, civic, or religious activity
8. Minors attending or traveling involving the exercise of First Amendment rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, including the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly
9. Minors who are married, had been married or had disabilities of minority removed by a court
10, Minors accompanied by a person 21 years of age or over and the minor was carrying written permission from a parent.
What will happen if a minor is violating the curfew?
That minor will not be going to jail just for violating the curfew. For first-time offenders, a written warning will likely be given to the minor and the minor's parent(s), and the minor will be either taken home or the minor's parents will pick the minor up. Further violations could result in a citation and possible fine.
What is the fine?
A juvenile court can levy a fine of up to $500. Parents could also be issued citations and fines for curfew violations.
How long will this curfew be in effect?
State law allows this curfew to be in effect for three years. Prior to that three-year expiration, the City Council will review the effects of the curfew and decide whether to continue or repeal the curfew.
Anyone with questions can contact the Fairfield Police Department at 903-389-3901, the Municipal Court at 903-389-2983, or City Hall at 903-389-2633.
You can find the text of the ordinance below:
AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A CURFEW FOR MINORS AND RESTRICTING LOITERING IN PUBLIC PLACES WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS OF THE CITY OF FAIRFIELD, TEXAS; PROVIDING FOR A PENALTY; CREATING A MISDEMEANOR PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN $500.00; INCLUDING FINDINGS OF FACT AND PROPER NOTICE AND HEARING; PROVIDING REPEALER, SEVERABILITY AND SAVINGS CLAUSES; AND ESTABLISHING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Fairfield, Texas (the “City Council”) recognizes that persons under seventeen are particularly susceptible by their lack of maturity and experience to participate in unlawful activities and to be victims of older perpetrators of crime; and
WHEREAS, the City Council has an obligation to provide for the protection of minors from each other and from other persons, to promote parental controls over and responsibility for their children, for the protection of the general public and for the reduction of the incidence of juvenile criminal activity; and
WHEREAS, the City Council believes that it is now necessary to adopt a juvenile curfew to address the increase in the number of juveniles in our City roaming the streets after dark, and acts of vandalism in the city;
WHEREAS, the City Council determines that a curfew for those under seventeen years of age will be in the best interest of public health, safety and general welfare, and will help to attain the foregoing objectives and to diminish the undesirable impact of such conduct on the citizens of the City of Fairfield; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to Texas Local Government Code Section 51.001, the City has general authority to adopt an ordinance or police regulation that is for the good government, peace or order of the City and is necessary or proper for carrying out a power granted by law to the City; and
WHEREAS, through the passage of this ordinance, City Council finds that such regulations are in the public interest and necessary and proper for the good government and peace and order of the City of Fairfield.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF FAIRFIELD, TEXAS, THAT:
SECTION 1. ESTABLISHMENT OF A CURFEW FOR MINORS. Pursuant to Sections 51.001 and 51.012 of the Texas Local Government Code, the City Council of the City of Fairfield hereby enacts and adopts this Ordinance which establishes a curfew for minors under the age of seventeen years of age within the City Limits of the City of Fairfield.
SECTION 2. DEFINITIONS.
(a) “Chief of Police” means the chief of police of the City of Fairfield or a designated representative.
(b) “Curfew Hours” means the period beginning at 11:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 a.m. of the following day on the days of Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the period begins at 12:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 a.m. The time shall be determined by the prevailing standard of time, whether Central Standard Time of Central Daylight Savings Time, generally observed at that hour by the public in the City of Fairfield. The time then observed in the City of Fairfield Police Department Dispatch, shall be prima facie evidence of the true and correct time.
(c) “Direct Route” means the shortest path to travel through a public place to reach a final destination without any detour or stop along the way.
(d) “Emergency” means, but not limited to, a fire, a natural disaster, an automobile accident, or any situation requiring immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life.
(e) “Minor” means a person who is under seventeen (17) years of age.
(f) “Parent” means a person who is;
(1) a natural or adoptive parent of the minor;
(2) a court-appointed guardian of the minor or the public or private agency with whom the minor has been placed by a court; or
(3) at least 21 years of age and authorized by a parent or court appointed guardian to have the care and custody of the minor.
(g) “Public Place” means any street, alley, highway, sidewalk, driveway, yard, playground, park, plaza, building, or other places used by or open to the public. The term “street” includes the legal right of way, including, but not limited to the traffic lanes, curbs, sidewalks, whether paved or unpaved, parkways, and any grass plots or other grounds found within the legal right of way of a street.
(h) “Remain” means to:
(1) linger, stop, or stay for any length of time in or on a public place or roadway or to travel or move upon a street; or
(2) fail to leave premises when requested to do so by a police officer or the owner, operator, or other person in control of the premises.
SECTION 3. CURFEW – OFFENSES.
(a) A minor commits an offense if he/she remains in any public place within the city limits during curfew hours.
(b) A parent of a minor commits an offense if he/she knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the minor to remain in any public place within the city limits during curfew hours.
(c) A parent of a minor commits an offense if he/she knowingly fails to respond within two hours of receipt of any notification by a law enforcement officer to take custody of a minor taken into custody for violation of this section, unless reasonably hindered from doing so.
SECTION 4. CURFEW – EXCEPTIONS – AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES.
(a) It is a defense to prosecution of this ordinance when the minor was:
(1) accompanied by the minor’s parent;
(2) on an errand at the direction of the minor’s parent, was using a direct route, and was carrying a written communication signed by the parent stating a brief description of the errand and that the named minor has consent to perform such an errand;
(3) in a motor vehicle engaged in interstate travel, beginning, ending or passing through the City of Fairfield;
(4) engaged in an employment activity, including but not limited to newspaper delivery, and was using a direct route;
(5) involved in an emergency;
(6) on the sidewalk abutting the minor’s residence or abutting the residence of a next door neighbor if the neighbor did not complain to the police officer about the minor’s presence;
(7) attending an official school, civic or religious activity or returning home by a direct route from an official school, civic or religious activity;
(8) attending or traveling directly to or from an activity involving the exercise of First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, including the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly;
(9) married or had been married or had disabilities of minority removed in accordance with the Texas Family Code; or
(10) accompanied by a person at least twenty-one years of age, and the minor was carrying a written communication signed by the parent stating the name of the person who is at least twenty one years of age and accompanying the minor and that the named minor has consent to be in the company of that named person.
SECTION 5. CURFEW – ENFORCEMENT.
(a) A police officer upon finding a minor in violation of Section 2 shall take the necessary steps to determine whether the minor is remaining in a public place in the city limits in violation of Section 2 and whether any defenses/exceptions under Section 3 apply to the actions or activities of the minor. If the officer has probable cause to believe that the minor is in violation of Section 2, the officer may take appropriate enforcement action against the minor in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas and normal police procedures.
(b) If a minor is taken into custody under this section, the police department may issue a citation to the minor and shall take the necessary steps to release the minor to a parent or other reasonable adult.
(c) When a minor is issued a citation and/or taken into custody for a violation of the ordinance, the police department may, either by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery, notify a parent of the minor that the minor violated this ordinance and include a warning that any subsequent violation may result in prosecution of the parent under this ordinance.
SECTION 6. CURFEW – VIOLATION – PENALTY.
(a) Any minor who violates this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00 and may be subject to appropriate action by a juvenile court in accordance with applicable provisions of the Juvenile Justice Code and the Texas Penal Code.
(b) A parent of a minor who violates any provision of the ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceed $500.00 per occurrence and that each occurrence may be deemed a separate violation of this ordinance punishable a herein provided.
SECTION 7. CURFEW – REVIEW OF ORDINANCE. In accordance with Section 370.002 of the Texas Local Government Code, the City Council will review the effect of this Ordinance on the community and on problems the Ordinance was intended to remedy prior to the expiration of three (3) years following the effective date of this ordinance.
SECTION 8. FINDINGS OF FACT. This Ordinance was duly enacted with all requisites and formalities incident thereto to the enactment of ordinances, and such is evidenced by the signatures below; and further that the foregoing recitals are incorporated into this Ordinance by reference as findings of fact as if expressly set forth herein.
SECTION 9. REPEALER. All ordinances, resolutions, or parts thereof, that are in conflict or inconsistent with any provision of this Ordinance are hereby repealed to the effect of such conflict, and the provisions of this Ordinance shall be and remain controlling as to the matters regulated, herein.
SECTION 10. SEVERABILITY. Should any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this Ordinance be deemed invalid, unconstitutional, or unenforceable by a court of law or administrative agency with jurisdiction over the matter, such action shall not be construed to affect any other valid portion of this Ordinance.
SECTION 11. PROPER NOTICE AND MEETING. It is officially found and determined that the meeting at which this Ordinance was passed was open to the public, and that public notice of the time, place and purpose of said meeting was given as required by the Open Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 551. Notice was also provided as required by Chapter 52, Texas Local Government Code.
SECTION 12. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Ordinance shall be effective from and after approval.
PASSED AND APPROVED this the 9th day of February 2021, by a vote of 3 (ayes) to 2 (nays) to zero (abstentions) of the City Council of Fairfield, Texas.