Jacksonville, Florida Curfew: What do I need to know?
On May 31, 2020, moments before it was scheduled to start, the City of Jacksonville blasted out a text message and a television interruption indicating an immediate curfew.
What is a Curfew?
A curfew is any regulation requiring people to be off the streets and in their home by a certain time.
What is the basis of Jacksonville, Florida’s curfew?
Jacksonville’s Sheriff Mike Williams said an unnamed deputy was either stabbed or slashed in the neck and was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday evening. Additionally, City property has been vandalized by protestors. There has been no known looting, large scale destruction or other coordinated attacks. Sheriff’s office spokespeople have not since commented on the deputy’s condition Sunday morning.
On the other hand, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has apparent information about other organized protests, including intended damage to people or property. They will be asked to reveal that information, but it can stand as a basis for a curfew.
Are curfews legal?
Yes. Generally. But they can also violate constitutional rights.
Cases have consistently held it is a proper exercise of police power to respond to emergency situations with temporary curfews that might curtail the movement of persons who otherwise would enjoy freedom from restriction. Moorhead v. Farrelly, 727 F. Supp. 193 D.V.I. 1989) (ravages of Hurricane Hugo); United States v. Chalk, 441 F.2d 1277 (4th 1971) (civil unrest after racial incident); In re Juan C., 28 Cal.App.4th 1093, 33 Cal. Rptr.2d 919 (1994) (widespread looting, violence during riots in Los Angeles).
These usually occur only under the threat or after major illegal behavior, such as in the event of a hurricane disaster or to prevent widespread looting or damage to property. Jacksonville has not yet reached that level.
Is the curfew void for being vague or overbroad?
The basic law concerning the vagueness and over-breadth of legislative authority has been established by the U.S. Supreme Court. A statute is void for vagueness when its prohibition is so vague as to leave a individual without knowledge of the nature of the activity that is prohibited. NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 416, 83 S.Ct. 328, 9 L.Ed. 406 (1963). To pass constitutional muster, a statute must “give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited. . . . [and] provide explicit standards for those who apply [it]” to avoid arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 108-09, 92 S. Ct. 2294, 2298-99, 33 L.Ed.2d 222 (1972). Even a clear, precise ordinance may be “overbroad” if it prohibits constitutionally protected conduct. Grayned, 408 U.S. at 114, 92 S.Ct. at 2302.
This challenge depends on the actual order and what is being prevented and why the person was arrested. We can help with this, but may need to know more to reach an opinion.
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