Virginia town says it will fine people up to $250 for trick-or-treating over the age of 14

A Virginia town with a history of controversial Halloween laws is preparing for its first October with a new rule that could punish trick-or-treaters over the age of 14

The city of Chesapeake, Va., has for decades had an official ordinance restricting the age of people who can go door-to-door for candy. But its latest law could result in a hefty $250 fine.

Passed in March of this year, the updated ordinance also places a similar punishment on anyone — regardless of age — caught trick-or-treating after 8 p.m.

The new law is actually in some ways more lenient than its predecessor, which placed the age cap at 12. That rule, which came with a fine of between $25 and $100, faced plenty of backlash last Halloween, including a petition from community members.

"Sure, there are a few bad apples out there who are more interested in the trick part of Halloween, rather than the treat — but should that ruin the fun for everyone?" the petition read.

Chesapeake went viral for its Halloween rule last October, with the town even getting its own segment on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" In the clip, comedian Fred Willard plays a fictionalized version of the city's sheriff, who tells Kimmell, "You haven't seen what I've seen out on the streets."

All that attention prompted a change in the law, which led to the increased age limit. And while the punishment may seem extreme, local officials say the 49-year-old rule has never caused a real issue. 

"Anyone over 14 who trick-or-treats in Chesapeake will not receive anything but candy," Chesapeake spokesperson Heath Covey told CNN, adding that would be the case as long as they're not causing trouble.

CNN reported that the law was originally passed in 1970, stemming from an especially violent Halloween two years prior. That night, police dealt with multiple incidents, including people placing firecrackers into trick-or-treaters' candy bags.

Covey said that the current law is meant to stop similar wrongdoing, nothing that police will only take action if they find a person doing "something malicious," such as smashing pumpkins. He added that officers do not actively ID children to check their age.

"Say for example a 17-year-old kid and his 12-year-old sister both go trick-or-treating," Covey told CNN. "The only problem that 17-year-old is going to have is deciding who's going to get to keep the Snickers."

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