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Juvenile defense: curfew lifted for minors in Austin

Many Texas cities have instituted a curfew for minors in efforts to reduce the amount of juvenile crime. Some officials argue that this practice has had little or no effect on the number of juvenile defense cases. It has also been noted that the curfew may actually increase juvenile crimes for certain demographics. Given these observations, the city of Austin has now lifted the curfew for anyone under 17.

The curfew was imposed in Austin in 1990. It stated that any minor could not be out in public between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. There had also been a daytime curfew that paralleled with the school calendar. The daytime curfew had been lifted in June.

While the intention of the curfew was to keep minors off the streets, some advocates contend that it drove some to other criminal activity. Over 2,000 juveniles were cited for curfew violations. Only 88 of these citations resulted in a municipal court conviction. There were also fines associated with the citations, but few ever paid the fines. Judges involved often required the juvenile to devote some hours to community service.

Opponents of the curfew believe that those cited for violations often end up in a cycle of incarceration. They do not believe that a curfew solves the  problem. Going forward, the Austin Police Department plans to monitor future incidents involving juveniles. Over time, the department can accurately determine if lifting the curfew had any significant effect on the crime rate for that demographic.

When a minor has been charged with a crime, it is important to seek the advice of a Texas juvenile defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer will fight to keep the case in the juvenile system and avoid having someone tried as an adult. Keeping a case in juvenile court allows for more opportunity for rehabilitation. A strong defense team will work to eliminate or minimize the negative impact on a juvenile's life.

Source: statesman.com, "Austin City Council ends juvenile curfew", Philip Jankowski, Sept. 29, 2017

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