VIRGINIA, USA — Halloween is right around the corner and kids are getting ready to go trick-or-treating!
In the search for candy, you’re likely to see ghosts, witches—and in Virginia, one type of candy-seeker who might not be allowed.
The possible prohibition has some people wondering, like this woman who posted on the Real Ladies of Loudoun County Facebook page.
Is this Chesapeake trick-or-treat law real, and are there similar laws in northern Virginia?
Yes, technically these laws exist, but not everywhere, and at least in Chesapeake, they aren’t actually enforced.
WHAT WE FOUND:
In Chesapeake, the Code of Ordinances states “if any person over the age of 14 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as trick or treat… he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.” An older version of the code even included up to six months of jail time… though that provision has since been removed.
The code also limits when trick-or-treaters can have their fun: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Kids who stay out longer will again “be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.”
The thing is, trick-or-treat laws aren’t unique to Chesapeake.
In Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Portsmouth, the age limit is even lower - restricting Halloween fun to those age 12 and under.
But like a lot of things on Halloween, the laws aren’t as scary as they first appear.
“The law was enacted in 1970,” Heath Covey, the Director of Public Communications for the city of Chesapeake, Virginia, said. “As of 2021, we haven’t had 2022 yet, but as of 2021, we have never used the law, that law has never had to be used.”
Back in the late 60s, the laws were intended to help police deal with mischief like egging houses or smashing pumpkins.
According to Covey, they are still on the books for that same reason. Here’s the good news though: in the last 50 years, Chesapeake police have never needed to enforce them.
When asked if parents and older kids should be worried, Covey had this to say: “The biggest problem they’re gonna have if they’re trick or treating with their younger sibling or whatever, is who’s going to get first dibs on the good candy.”
As for Northern Virginia, we spoke to officials in Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, and the city of Alexandria. None of them have any laws restricting the age of trick-or-treaters.
So, we can verify that yes, technically these trick-or-treat laws do exist in some parts of Virginia. However, if you live in Northern VA, you have nothing to worry about. Plus, at least in Chesapeake, they aren’t actually enforced.