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Truancy laws restrict the rights of juveniles to be outdoors or in public places during certain hours of the day. Such laws aim to increase school attendance, enhance a student’s opportunity to receive a quality education, become a more productive member of society, and avoid becoming involved in delinquent behaviors. The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 45.04 states:

It is unlawful for any minor under the age of 18, who is subject to compulsory education or to compulsory continuation education, alone or in concert with others, be present in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, or other public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement and eating places, vacant lots or any place open to the public during the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. of the same day on days when said minor’s school is in session. The provisions of this section shall not apply when:

a. The minor is accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of the minor;

b. The minor is on an emergency errand directed by his or her parent or guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of the minor;

c. The minor is going or coming directly from or to their place of gainful employment;

d. The minor is going or coming to or from a medical appointment;

e. The minor has permission to leave campus for lunch and has in his or her possession a valid, school-issued, off-campus permit;

f. The minor is attending or going to or returning directly home from a public meeting, or place of public entertainment, such as a movie, play, sporting event or school activity; or

g. The presence of such minor in said place or places is connected with or required with respect to a business, trade, profession or occupation in which the minor is lawfully engaged.

h. when the minor is involved in an emergency such as a fire, natural disaster, automobile accident, a situation requiring immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life, or any unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state which calls for immediate action; or

i. when the minor is in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel; or

j. when the minor is on a sidewalk abutting the minor’s residence.

Violations are punishable by a fine not exceeding $250.00 and/or community service.

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