In the wake of a number of recent shootings involving juveniles, the City of Miami Police Department has announced that it will be enforcing the county ordinance that prohibits juveniles (17 and under) from being out on their own in Miami-Dade County between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday. Fridays and Saturdays, juveniles may be unattended between midnight and 6 a.m.
Juveniles may be going to and from school, religious, or work-related events during those hours.
With this increased enforcement of the curfew law, it is apparent that juvenile arrests will rise. That's because police will have a valid reason to stop anybody during those hours who appears to be a juvenile. This may permit the officer to stop and frisk juveniles during these investigatory stops, which could lead to the discovery of drugs or weapons. Also, if juveniles don't produce their IDs or run away when the police approach, they could be arrested for resisting an officer without violence.
Arrests of people 18 and over could increase as well, since officers must merely have a good faith belief that a person is a juvenile in order to conduct a stop. Even if the person is not a juvenile, once that police encounter is initiated, anything could happen.
While curfews for teenagers are not a bad thing, it should not give the police unquestioned freedom to detain people.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing juvenile defendants in Miami-Dade and Broward.