Halloween is a time for spooky fun, candy, and costumes. But for some people, it can also be a time for fines and jail time. That’s because several Virginia towns have laws that prohibit anyone over 12 years old from trick-or-treating or face penalties.
One of these towns is Chesapeake, where the city code in 2018 stated that anyone over 12 who engages in trick-or-treating “shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.”
However, after the story drew national attention, Chesapeake said it had not enforced the law in its more than 45 years of history and that it only applied to those who engaged in vandalism or mischief. “We were never going to lock up a 13-year-old for trick-or-treating. It’s ridiculous.” said Heath Covey, Chesapeake city spokesman.
In 2019, Chesapeake changed its law to raise the age limit to 14 and remove the jail time penalty. “The law was originally put in place for safety reasons. It was never intended to be a punitive measure.” Covey said.
Other Virginia towns have similar laws, such as Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk. However, none of them have reported any arrests or citations for trick-or-treating violations.
Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. It is celebrated on October 31st, the eve of the Christian feast of All Saints’ Day.
Trick-or-treating is a cherished tradition for many families, but it can also pose some risks. Parents should supervise their children and check their candy before they eat it.
“Halloween is a fun night for kids and parents alike. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time.” said Fredericksburg Police Department.
– Law changed about trick or treaters over 12 in Virginia town facing jail time | WSET, WSET, October 22nd 2019
– Too old to trick-or-treat? Some towns can throw teens in jail, but laws not enforced, The Center Square, October 30th 2023
– Fredericksburg Trick-Or-Treat 2023: When To Get Candy, Safety Tips, Patch, October 30th 2023
– When To Trick-Or-Treat In Alexandria, Safety Tips To Know, Patch, October 30th 2023