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Altamonte Springs Police Department
Monday October 11th, 2010 :: 12:01 p.m. EDT

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Is It Against The Law To Wear A Mask In Public On Halloween? See email for full story.

If you’re new to Nixle – Welcome aboard! Periodically you will receive a question which challenges your mind on a topic relating to Florida law. To make things more interesting the question is thought of as a pop quiz with a reward if you get it right and a challenge if you get it wrong. Ok today’s question: Is it against the law to wear a mask in public on Halloween? Answer “A” if you believe yes it’s against the law or “B” if you believe you may legally wear a mask on Halloween. Please enjoy the silence while everyone makes their selection…..

And the survey says – actually Florida law says the correct answer is “B” no it’s not against the law to wear a mask on Halloween. If you selected “B” pass go and collect $200 and enjoy a bowl of yummy popcorn with melted butter. If you selected “A” do not pass go, do not collect $200 and eat your popcorn dry with no salt.

Today’s question comes from Florida Statute 876.13 which states this, “No person shall wear any type of mask, hood, or device which conceals any portion of the face to conceal the identity of the wearer in a public place.”

Whoa Nellie - Why I am eating dry popcorn? Florida law says it’s against the law to wear a mask in a public place - doesn’t this include Halloween? Before you melt the butter take a look at section 876.16 which outlines some exemptions including, “Any person wearing a traditional holiday costume.” Therefore the law allows little Johnny to dress up as Spiderman and venture out trick-or-treating in public while wearing his Spidy mask.

Have you ever seen anyone riding a motorcycle with a bandana or scarf over their face? According to Florida law 876.13 you may not conceal any portion of your face – so this is against the law right? Actually it’s not against the law. To gain a complete understanding of Florida’s mask law you have to study the entire portion of chapter 876. In section 876.155 it states that any portion of the law which makes it illegal to wear a mask only applies if the person wearing the mask intends to, “Injure, intimidate, interfere with another person’s rights secured by federal, state, or local laws, threaten, abuse, or harass any other person.”

With that said, I would not recommend walking into your local bank or convenience store wearing a mask. This type of behavior will most likely cause fear from employees and customers proceeded by a call to 9-1-1 immediately followed up with an amplified sound from the parking lot that goes something like this, “Police! Freeze! Put your hands in the air!”

Florida’s mask law was written to deter criminal activity and provides for enhanced penalties. A criminal who uses a mask in the commission of a crime is charged with a one degree higher penalty. For example, a shoplifter who steals under $300 would normally face a first degree misdemeanor; however if caught using a mask during the crime they would be charged with a 3rd degree felony.

In conclusion, the City of Altamonte Springs will proudly host the 13th Annual Halloween at Cranes Roost Park on October 31, 2010, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. We welcome all masked ghosts and goblins to a free night of trick-or-treating, costume contest, and special kids play area. For more information visit www.uptownaltamonte.com.

Address/Location
Altamonte Springs Police Department
175 Newburyport Ave
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 407-339-2441

Lt Darin Farber
COPS Section
dwfarber@altamonte.org
407-571-8290

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