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Jail Time For Trick-Or-Treaters: Chesapeake Considers Amending Infamous Policy

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Jacob Orgel Contributor

While top Virginia government officials are the subject of mass controversy regarding insensitive costumes on the state level, some city officials have their own costume-related controversy to worry about.

Chesapeake, Virginia, made headlines last Halloween when reports began circulating of a city law making trick-or-treating by anyone over the age of 12 or after 8 p.m. a crime punishable by jail time. The City Council is now considering amending the 50-year-old policy.

“The idea that we would put teenagers that age in jail was just a horrible thought, obviously, and it angered a lot of people,” Mayor Rick West told ABC News. He reports losing sleep over the national outcry.

The Council convened on Tuesday to discuss repealing the incarceration portion of “the [c]ity’s trick-or-treat ordinance,” as it is referred to in official meeting minutes.


Should the amendment pass, punishment for violation of the statute would instead come at the cost of a $250 fine. While this may still outrage some, it is actually on par with laws of the surrounding towns.

Newport News, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Suffolk all classify trick-or-treating past age 12 or after curfew as a Class 4 misdemeanor, and Portsmouth considers such behavior to be a Class 3 misdemeanor.

The recent push to amend the strange law came when Jimmy Kimmel mocked the policy

“Halloween is not all fun and games, it’s important to remember that,” he said. “In Chesapeake, Virginia, if you trick-or-treat after a certain age, you can end up in jail.”

No teenager has ever actually been arrested under the current law, according to the Virginian-Pilot, but the publicity it received has still driven city legislators to demand a change.

West hopes to avoid scary Halloween backlash this year.