No matter how old you are, no matter what your race or social status, you have fundamental rights to fair treatment and "due process" in the legal system by police and other officials.

Back to "Know Your Student Rights"

Do I have to obey local curfews?

Yes. But that doesn’t mean you can't challenge a curfew and get it changed.

Curfews for minors have been objected to (and sometimes fought in court) on the basis that they are not constitutional. The main objection has been that curfews violate young people's First Amendment rights by preventing them from attending church functions, midnight vigils, after-school jobs, or political rallies. It cannot be unlawful to attend these crucial events and places. 

Various courts have decided that every curfew must be evaluated on its own terms and on the facts surrounding each particular challenge.

If you feel your community’s curfew is unfair, consider taking action. Here's how

Helpful Hint: When dealing with the police, if you can, it's recommended that you be as calm and respectful as possible because it increases the chances that the encounter will turn out better for you. Never resist arrest and never run from a police officer.

Do I have to answer police questions?

No. You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police and you can even say, "I want to exercise my right to remain silent." You also have the right to request a free attorney.

In fact, if it goes so far that the police want to arrest you, they'll probably read you your Miranda rights— just like in the movies: "You have the right to remain silent..." As part of that, they need to inform you of your right to remain silent, your right to a lawyer, and the fact that what you say can be used against you—before they question you.

If you are told that you have the right to an attorney, you probably should request one (the courts will pay for one if you can't afford one). It’s probably smartest not to answer any more questions until that lawyer arrives.

Do I have to answer questions from the principal or other school officials who think I was involved in something that’s against the law?

No. At school, when the problem involves something that might be illegal, you still legally have the right to remain silent. However, school officials can still discipline you whether you answer or not.

If you're being questioned about something at school that could land you in trouble with the law, it's best to insist on first being allowed to contact your parents or a trusted adult.