In order to curb what is perceived to be an issue with young offenders, historically some municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting young people from being outside past a certain point. In Austin, such curfews were in practice for 27 years until they were ended last August. Texas advocates and lawmakers are now looking at juvenile defense data in the area to find out if this change had an impact on crime rates.
The curfew was taken off the books after activists protested that the laws disproportionately affected minorities in the area. According to their data, over 1,000 people were stopped and 400 were ticketed under the ordinance, primarily in and between Northeast and Southeast Austin. The curfew was a class C misdemeanor violation.
Stakeholders point out that juvenile crime rates have not increased since the change. In fact, a commissioner noted that there was a 21 percent decrease in juvenile victims since lifting the curfew. Following this change in Austin, San Antonia reworked its laws on juveniles out late and Dallas is reviewing its own laws.
Along with the lifting of curfews, Austin’s youth criminality rates were also impacted by Texas’ decision to revise its truancy law in 2015. Prior to that time, children who were not in school without authorization for their absences could be cited by state authorities. These changes have had a clear impact on juvenile defense rates and concerns in the state; although young people are still cited for other offenses on a regular basis. Those who are under 18 and facing criminal charges in the state should speak to a lawyer immediately to understand their defense options,