Flash Mob Curfew Set after Philly Attacks

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on August 11, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new Philadelphia curfew is now in place - all because of violent flash mobs. The curfew is set at 10:00 p.m. for children under the age of 13, and midnight for those under the age of 18.

Mayor Michael Nutter announced the curfews in response to a growing trend of flash mobs that use social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, to organize and gather - sometimes for violent purposes.

Flash mobs are generally not legal since the U.S. Constitution protects citizens' right to peaceful assembly. But if social media is used to organize criminal activity or if flash mobs turn to vandalism or destruction of property, there could be criminal liability for participants.

For citizens who break the curfews, they may be taken down to the police department and fined up to $300, while repeat offenders may face stricter penalties of $500, reports BBC News.

And, Nutter is warning parents that if they fail to pick up their children from the police station when they are taken in, they could face child negligence charges, BBC News reports.

Challenges to juvenile curfew laws can be centered on several constitutional issues. Civil rights groups have often challenged local curfew laws on the theory that they are unconstitutionally vague, and that they are unfairly imposing government interference into a parents' right to bring up their children as they see fit.

Law can be deemed "unconstitutionally vague" when the wording of the statute makes it difficult for citizens to discern what is illegal and what is not.

Despite the legal challenges, it's possible that curfew laws may become more widely used, as flash mobs have also been blamed for some of the violence and looting in the United Kingdom.

Only time will tell if the flash mob curfew will have an effect in Philadelphia. The curfew has also been implemented to be stricter in several areas, where anyone under the age of 18 needs to be off the streets by 9 p.m., reports CBS News.

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