If you were hoping to throw on an old costume this Halloween and relive your childhood, you might want to think twice. According to several towns’ bylaws, it’s illegal to go trick-or-treating if you’re over the age of 12, with some pretty severe consequences. In Chesapeake, Virginia, anyone 13 years or older, dressed in a costume seeking candy, could be fined up to $100 and thrown in jail for six months. It also states that anyone, regardless of age, engaging in door-to-door solicitation after 8:00 PM would also be subject to a fine as high as $100, and up to 30 days in jail.
The official city code reads as follows:
Sec. 46-8. – Trick-or-treat activities.
(a) If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as “trick or treat” or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.
(b) If any person shall engage in the activity commonly known as “trick or treat” or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever after 8:00 PM, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $10 nor more than $100 or by confinement in jail for not more than 30 days or both.
(Code 1970, § 17-13.1; Ord. of 10-26-70)
Other cities in Virginia, like Norfolk, Newport News, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, have similar punishments for children over 12. Newport News’ city code goes one step further, adding that “no accompanying parent or guardian shall wear a mask of any type.”
While the law does sound incredibly strict, its purpose is to keep kids safe during trick-or-treating, preventing more mischief-prone teens from sharing the streets with youngsters.