Loitering is the act of being in a public place with no specific purpose – for example, wandering aimlessly around a store for an hour with no intention of buying anything. Young adults under age 18 can also stand accused of loitering if they are unsupervised in areas like a park. Learn what this offense entails and how you can defend your child against it.
Loitering and Juveniles
Juvenile law is a specialized branch of our legal system that deals with crimes committed by minors. These violations tend to have different definitions and less severe consequences than those committed by adults. For example, “status offenses” like truancy and breaking curfew only count as criminal acts when minors commit them.
Loitering relates to both these status offenses because minors can be truant if they are absent from school with no valid reason. A child under age 18 who is in a public place and unaccompanied by a parent or guardian during the day when they should be in school can be charged with daytime loitering. Similarly, with some exceptions, minors in California are breaking curfew by being out unsupervised past 10 p.m.
Why Do Teens Loiter?
Adults tend to assume teenagers are disrespectful, destructive and misguided, which has led to the passage of laws intended to control minors’ behavior. Unfortunately, many communities lack community centers and other places where young adults can safely get together, which can lead them to congregate or “loiter” in places that are technically off-limits.
Cities have several ways of regulating where young people can go and what they can do, including curfews and anti-loitering ordinances. While these measures are ostensibly for safety reasons, they can be limiting for teenagers who want to spend time with their friends. Often, these burdens are even heavier for young people of color, teen girls, members of the LGBTQ+ community and teenagers with disabilities. The consequences of these policies can put teenagers at higher risk of getting kicked out of public spaces – or worse, being detained if someone calls the police.
Your Orange County, CA, Juvenile Criminal Attorney
If your child is facing criminal charges for loitering, truancy or breaking curfew, it’s critical for your family’s future to have legal representation you can count on. As an experienced California juvenile defense attorney and former prosecutor, Katie Walsh knows how to shepherd your child’s case to a positive conclusion. She’s handled thousands of juvenile court cases and can help your family understand all the ins and outs of the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Newport Beach or Tustin.