This year, trick-or-treaters in Chesapeake, Virginia, are expecting giant candy hauls. However, due to a recently edited city ordinance, those trick-or-treaters that are over the age of 14 could be getting something a bit less sweet — a Class 4 misdemeanor charge.
Anyone guilty of this misdemeanor could be subject to a fine of up to $250. While this seems frightening enough, it is actually an altered ordinance from the 1970s, which was only changed earlier this year and was much harsher than it is now.
The original ordinance faced anyone over the age of 12 with jail time if they were caught trick-or-treating, but it should be noted that neither version of the bone-chilling ordinance has ever been used, which stated by Chesapeake’s website;
“The City’s trick-or-treat ordinance was updated in 2019 when City Council voted to remove the (never before used) penalty of jail time and to raise the age limit to 14, making it one of the least restrictive ordinances in all of Hampton Roads.”
Even with the two additional years of time before trick-or-treating is criminalized, some people, including freshman computer science major Louis King, still do not think that the cutoff is very sweet for the teenagers of Chesapeake.
“I honestly don’t know anyone who wanted to stop trick or treating when they were 14, trick or treating is super fun,” said King. “If you want to keep trick or treating after you’re 14, go for it, why does it matter.”
Dylan McCormick, a sophomore English and education major, went as far as to say that there should be no age restriction on trick-or-treating.
“I don’t really think there should be an age restriction on things like trick-or-treating. If someone wants to go out and have fun doing that, I think that that should be fine,” said McCormick. “I just think [the ordinance] is kind of baseless and makes no sense.”
According to the city of Chesapeake, the ordinance matters because it possibly will deter any wrongdoers on Halloween night. While it has yet to have been used, the original ordinance was first enacted after a series of violent events on Halloween in 1968.
McCormick argues that this kind of legislation has no impact on Halloween night crime whatsoever.
McCormick says that even with the legislation, if anyone is committing criminal acts like vandalism or assaulting other trick-or-treaters that, “no cop is gonna stop them and no one’s gonna complain, so nothing is gonna happen.”
While McCormick may be correct in his assumption that the ordinance will not deter any crime, due to the fact that the ordinance has not been used in its nearly 50 year history, it will still be in effect for Chesapeake’s residents.
King believes that while 14 is too young for a trick-or-treating cutoff, it is fair to give Chesapeake’s residents around an additional half of a decade of time, before they can be criminally charged for trick or treating.
“There is a point where it gets creepy,” said King. “If you’re in your twenties and you’re trick or treating, that might be a little weird.”
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