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Halloween is a yearly event where it seems like there are no rules. Hiding your identity? Sure. Roaming around the neighborhood late at night? No problem. Accepting candy from strangers? Go for it.
However, there are a few laws to keep in mind as you celebrate (responsibly). There is a 17% increase in crime-related claims on October 31st, according to the insurance company Travelers. Knowing the law keeps your Halloween events and activities fun and safe.
Some communities restrict trick or treating to a certain age. In the Virginia towns of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmith, Suffolk, and Norfolk, for example, kids older than 12 can't trick or treat. Other areas have local ordinances about mask-wearing or costumes. For example, it is illegal in Alabama to dress as a nun or a priest.
It may be part of your costume, but be aware of any rules about carrying weapons at Halloween. For example, carrying nunchucks is illegal in some states. It is not a good idea since sometimes law enforcement mistakes a toy gun for the real thing, resulting in children's deaths. If you are dressing up as a soldier, police officer, mobster, or anyone else who carries a weapon, be very careful about your fake weapon choice.
It is illegal to provide alcohol to minors (except to your own children or anyone under 21 with their parents in a bar in Wisconsin). Anyone under the age of 21 is a minor. You may also be liable if you knowingly allow someone else to serve a minor under your roof.
This is called contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and there can be serious penalties. You will face even harsher consequences if one of those minors drives drunk and injures or kills anyone.
If you host a Halloween party, and an intoxicated guest injures someone else, it may be your responsibility. In states with social host liability laws, you should never continue to serve an intoxicated adult or even consider providing alcohol to a minor. Their motor vehicle accidents will almost always become your problem.
Noise ordinances are designed to keep the peace in your community. They especially apply on Halloween. Turn the music down and push your guests inside if there are any rules about noise or curfew where you live. You don't want the police to show up and force you to turn the music down or end your party early.
Some communities implement Halloween regulations for registered sex offenders. Depending on the law in the town, they can't give out candy, wear masks, drive at certain times on Halloween night, and have to display "no candy" signs at their homes. If you are a registered sex offender, you need to pay careful attention if there's anything you need to do to comply with local laws. A violation could mean serious legal trouble.
So remember to have fun, but be careful and safe out there this Halloween. And if you do run into trouble, don't forget that you have rights and that criminal defense attorneys are there to help.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.