New Mexico posed to enact curfew law allowing cities to criminalize behavior that is not unlawful if committed by adults

There are several anti-crime bills being discussed for the upcoming state legislative session, one of which is legislation that would permit municipalities to enact ordinances that authorize criminal sanctions for youth violating a curfew.

The New Mexico Supreme Court addressed a challenge to an ordinance the City of Albuquerque had in a 1999 decision, concluding “that the Children’s Code preempts the City from drafting a Curfew ordinance which criminalizes behavior by children which is not unlawful if committed by adults.” ACLU v. City of Albuquerque, 128 NM 315, 325 (1999)

This decision, of course, and as the Court noted, did not leave state municipalities “without other remedies to alleviate perceived and actual problems with juvenile misbehavior.” ACLU v. City of Albuquerque at 322

If the legislation passes, and is signed into law by the governor, it is doubtful that this will curb any problems other than teens being out late at night, filling the seats at the local theater, and will criminalize kids for being kids, except at nighttime.

The New Mexico Constitution at Article II, § 10 allows a warrantless arrest only upon a showing of exigent circumstances. Hopefully, lawmakers are not intending to amend the state constitution to get at the opportunity to arrest New Mexico children. There are many ways to achieve public safety, but arresting kids for the same behavior permitted by adults isn’t one of them.