SFPD Juvenile & Family Services Unit
Protecting the Youths of San Francisco
What parents and juveniles should know.
Curfew laws restrict the rights of juveniles to be outdoors or in public places during certain hours of the day. Such laws aim to establish a safer community and to better protect kids from becoming victims of crime or becoming involved in delinquent behaviors. The San Francisco Municipal Police Code (SF MPC) 539 states:
It shall be unlawful for any minor ( under 14 years) to be in or on any public street, public park, or any other public place between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m., except for the following:
- When the minor is accompanied by his or her parent or parents, legal guardian or other adult person having the lawful care or custody of the minor, or by his or her spouse eighteen years of age or older
- When the minor has express parental permission;
- Express parental permission is the verifiable permission of a minor's parent or legal guardian for the minor to be in or on any public street, public park, or any other public place during the hours of curfew set forth in Subdivision (c). When stopped for a possible violation of Subdivision (c), it shall be the minor's responsibility to demonstrate that he or she has express parental permission. The minor may satisfy this burden equally through any means including, but not limited to, signed and verifiable documentation from a parent or legal guardian specifying the date, time and purpose of permission or presentation of a form developed and administered by the Police Department. If a minor is unable to demonstrate that he or she has express parental permission and no other exception applies, the minor may be transferred to the nearest district police station. For minors who allege but are unable to demonstrate express parental permission, the officer in custody of the minor at the station immediately shall attempt to contact the minor's parent or legal guardian to determine if the minor has express parental permission. If the officer determines that the minor has express parental permission and the minor is not being held for any other charges, the minor immediately shall be released and returned to the place of initial detention as authorized by the minor's parent or legal guardian. If the officer does not determine that the minor has express parental permission, the minor shall be deemed to be in violation of Subdivision (c).
- When the minor is an emancipated minor;
- An emancipated minor is a minor who has entered into a valid marriage, is on active duty with any of the armed forces, or has received a declaration of emancipation, as more fully set forth in California Family Code Sections 7000, et seq.
- When the minor is engaged in an emergency mission;
- An emergency mission is a venture to obtain medical, police, fire, or other assistance that is required by some reasonable necessity to which a minor must attend.
- When the minor is participating in a religious or political activity.
- A religious or political activity includes, but is not limited to, a rally, demonstration, march, vigil, service, or distribution of information which has as its primary focus political or religious purposes.
- When the minor is engaged in legitimate employment.
- Legitimate employment is any lawful source of employment or self- employment in connection with a business, trade, profession, or occupation.
If a minor is found to be in violation of MPC 539, the minor will be taken into custody and cited for the offense. The minor will then be released to the care of the parent or guardian. If the parent or guardian cannot be located, the minor will be transferred to a juvenile receiving facility.