HELP US PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN ON
Youth Protection Ordinance
The purpose of this ordinance is to protect
juveniles from victimization and exposure to criminal activity by establishing a curfew
for juveniles under the age of eighteen years in the City of Charleston. The Youth
Protection Ordinance is intended to reinforce and promote the role of the parent in
raising and guiding children, and promote the health, safety, and welfare of both
juveniles and adults by creating an environment offering better protection and security
for all concerned.
For the purposes of this ordinance, the following words and
phrases shall have the following meanings:
(1) Direct Route: The shortest reasonable path of travel
or a commonly used route to reach a final destination without any detour or stop along the
(2) Emergency: An unforeseen combination of circumstances
or the resulting state that calls for immediate action. The term includes, but is not
limited to, a fire, a natural disaster, an automobile accident, or any situation requiring
immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or death. This term also shall include
any action that is reasonably necessary in order to respond to the medical needs of a
family member of the juvenile regardless of whether the juvenile's action is taken in
order to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
(3) Establishment: Any privately owned place of business
operated for profit to which the public has access or is invited including but not limited
to any place of amusement or entertainment.
(4) Guardian: A Person who is court-appointed to be the
guardian of a juvenile.
(5) Juvenile: Any person under the age of eighteen years
(6) Owner/Operator: Any individual, firm, association,
partnership or corporation, operating, managing or conducting any establishment, including
the employees, members or partners of an association or partnership and the officers of a
(7) Parent: A person who is a natural parent, adoptive
parent, foster parent or step-parent of another person, or a person to whom legal custody
has been given by court order.
(8) Public Place: Any place that is generally open to and
used by the public or a substantial group of the public, whether it be publicly or
privately owned, including but not limited to, streets, sidewalks, highways, alleys,
rights of way, public vehicular areas and parking lots, transportation facilities,
theaters, restaurants, shops, bowling, alleys, schools and school grounds, places of
business and amusement, playgrounds, parks, similar areas that are open to or accessible
to the public.
(9) Remain: To linger or stay in a public place, or to
fail to leave the premises when requested to do so by a police officer, or to fail to
leave the premises of an establishment when requested to do so by the owner/operator or
employee of the premises.
(10) Restricted Hours: The time of night referred to
herein is based upon the prevailing standard of time, whether Eastern Standard Time or
Eastern Daylight Savings Time, generally observed by the public in the City of Charleston,
Restricted hours shall mean:
(A) 10:00 p.m. on any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday until 6:00 am of the
following day; and
(B) 12:01 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. on any Saturday or Sunday.
Except as provided by subsection (d), the following offenses
constitute a violation of this ordinance:
(1) A juvenile commits an offense by being present in or
remaining in any public place or on the premises of any established within the city during
the restricted hours.
(2) A parent or guardian of a juvenile commits an offense if they
knowingly permit, or by insufficient control, allows the juvenile to remain in any public
place or on the premises of any establishment within the city during the restricted hours.
The term "knowingly" includes knowledge that a parent should reasonably be
expected to have concerning the whereabouts of a juvenile in that parent's legal custody.
This requirement is intended to hold a neglectful or careless parent up to a reasonable
community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall,
therefore, be no defense that a parent was completely indifferent to the activities or
conduct or whereabouts of such juvenile.
(3) The owner, operator, or an employee of an establishment
commits an offense if he knowingly allows a juvenile to remain upon the premises of the
establishment during the restricted hours. The term "knowingly" includes
knowledge that an operator or employer should reasonably be expected to have concerning
the patrons of an establishment. The standard for "knowingly" shall be applied
through an objective test: whether a reasonable person in the operator's or employee's
position should have known that the patron was a juvenile in violation of this Ordinance.
(4) It shall be a violation of this ordinance for any person 18
years or older to aid and abet a juvenile in the violation of subsection g (1).
(5) It shall be a violation of this ordinance for a parent or
guardian to refuse to take custody during the restricted hours of a juvenile for whom the
parent or guardian is responsible.
A juvenile who is in a public place or establishment during the
restricted hours shall not be in violation of this ordinance if the juvenile is:
(1) Accompanied by his parent or guardian.
(2) Accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older authorized
by the parent or guardian of such juvenile to take the parent or guardian's place in
accompanying the juvenile for a designated period of time and purpose within a specified
(3) On an errand, using a direct route, at the direction of the
juvenile's parent or guardian until the hour of 12:30 am.
(4) In a motor vehicle with a parental consent engaged in
interstate travel through the City or originating or terminating in the City.
(5) Traveling in a motor vehicle with a parent or guardian, or
traveling in a motor vehicle with an adult 18 years of age or older authorized by the
parent or guardian of such juvenile to take the parent or guardian's place in accompanying
the juvenile for a designated period of time and purpose within a specified area.
(6) Engaged in a lawful employment activity, or using a direct
route to or from a place of employment.
(7) Reacting or responding to an emergency.
(8) Attending or traveling to or from, by direct route, an
official school, religious, or recreational activity that is supervised by adults and
sponsored by a public or private school, the City of Charleston or other governmental
entity, a civic organization, or another similar entity that accepts responsibility for
(9) 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.
(10) Married or emancipated.
(11) When authorized, by special permit from the Chief of Police
or his designee carried on the person of the juvenile thus authorized, as follows. When
necessary nighttime activities of a juvenile may be inadequately provided for by other
provisions of this Ordinance, then recourse may be had to the Chief of Police, or his
designee, either for a regulation as provided in subsection (d) (12) or for a special
permit as the circumstances warrant. Upon the findings of reasonable necessity for the use
of a public place to the extent warranted by a written application signed by a juvenile,
and by a parent of the juvenile, if feasible, stating:
(1) the name, age, and address of the juvenile;
(2) the name, address, and telephone number of a parent thereof;
(3) the height, weight, sex, color of eyes and hair and other physical characteristics of
(4) the necessity that requires the juvenile to remain upon a public place during the
restricted hours otherwise applicable;
(5) the public place; and involved by date and hour, the Chief of Police or his designee
may grant a permit in writing for the juvenile's use of a public place at such hours as in
the opinion of the Chief of Police may reasonably be necessary and consistent with the
purposes of this ordinance.
Note: Circuit Judge Charles King declared paragraph 11
unconstitutional insofar as the Charleston City Council delegated to the police chief its
legislative authority to create exceptions to prohibitions of the curfew ordinance, giving
unbridled discretion to the police chief to issue permits without providing any meaningful
standards by which the police chief may exercise his or her authority. That Charleston
City Code § 18-17(d)(11) must be interpreted so as to eliminate any discretion on the
part of the chief of police, by requiring him or her to issue a permit when a parent or
guardian makes a determination that there is a reasonable necessity for his or her child
or ward to be in a public place during curfew hours.
(12) When authorized, by regulation issued by the Chief of Police
or his designee in other similar cases of reasonable necessity, similarly handled as set
forth in subsection (d) (11) but adapted to reasonably necessary nighttime activities of
more juveniles than can readily be dealt with on an individual special permit basis.
Normally such regulation by the Chief of Police or his designee permitting use of public
places should be issued sufficiently in advance to permit appropriate publicity through
news media and through other agencies such as the schools, and shall define the activity,
the scope of the use of the public places permitted, the period of time involved not to
extend more than one (1) hour beyond the time for termination of the activity, and the
reason for finding that the regulation is reasonably necessary and is consistent with the
purposes of this Ordinance.
It is a defense to prosecution under subsection (D (3) that the
owner, operator, or employee of an establishment promptly notified the police department
that a juvenile was present on the premises of the establishment during the restricted
hours and refused to leave.
(1) Before taking any enforcement action under this ordinance, a
police officer shall ask the apparent offender's age and reason for being in the public
place or establishment during the restricted hours.
(2) The officer shall not prepare a juvenile arrest report, issue
a citation, or make an arrest under this ordinance unless the officer reasonably believes
that an offense has occurred and that, based on any response and other circumstances, no
exception or defense in subsection (d) or (e) is present.
(1) A juvenile who violates any provision of this ordinance is
subject to being adjudicated delinquent. The municipal court, may in its discretion,
impose any dispositional alternative(s) that are provided by the West Virginia Code §
(2) Any person other than a juvenile who is found guilty of
violating any provision of this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be in
the discretion of the court subject to a fine up to $500.00, and/or a jail sentence not to
exceed thirty (30) days as set forth in § 1-7 of this code.
If any portion of this ordinance, or its application to any
person or circumstance is held unconstitutional or invalid, such unconstitutionality or
invalidity shall not effect the remaining portions of this ordinance. City Council hereby
declares that it would have enacted the remaining portions regardless of whether any part
of this ordinance is declared unconstitutional or invalid.