Are you considering a mask as part of your Halloween costume this year? If so, you may be wondering whether it’s legal to wear a full face mask in public, as hiding your face from authorities and other people can invite some safety concerns.
Fortunately, the state of California allows you to wear a mask in public – provided that it is part of a legitimate costume or role-playing outfit. If you are wearing a mask, false whiskers, or a “disguise” as part of an attempt to evade arrest, however, then you will be held in violation of California Penal Code Section 185.
In addition to this important exception, there are also a few other things that you should know about masks before heading out this Halloween. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles can provide a solid and well-reasoned defense when you’ve been accused of a crime, whether it happens on Halloween or during any other day of the year.
When Is It Okay to Wear a Mask?
Most states have laws regarding the use of masks in public, and many of these laws have been in place for over 150 years or more. While this may seem strange to modern Americans, there’s plenty of good reasons for the complex laws on masks. In some cases, it can be difficult for law enforcement to identify criminals or abusive protestors when they are wearing masks. In other cases, it may obscure the members of radical or terrorist groups and make it more difficult to pursue further action against that organization.
However, we also have the right to freedom of expression here in the United States – and in very rare cases, that right may protect a mask user from legal scrutiny. Additionally, some medical patients may be required to cover their face as they heal. Aside from these key exceptions, the government is still entitled to restrict mask usage as a matter of security.
Here are some of the situations where it’s often okay to wear a full or partial face mask in public:
- During a theatrical or entertainment performance
- During a national holiday, such as Halloween or Christmas
- When infected with a contagious virus or attempting to avoid contamination
- When severe injury victims must wear bandages on their face
When Is It Illegal to Wear a Mask?
Even though California takes a more lenient approach than most states and does not fully ban masks during Halloween, there are still some specific towns that do not allow this practice, so it’s important to check on city regulations and rules. For instance, in the city of Walnut, California, you are only allowed to wear a disguise or mask in public with a permit from the sheriff, even on Halloween night. Stores, restaurants, bars, and movie theatres are also allowed to bar you from entering their premises when you’re wearing a mask on Halloween.
Here are some other situations where it could be illegal to wear a mask on Halloween:
- If you are caught driving with a mask that could potentially obscure your vision
- If a police officer stops you and asks you to remove the mask
- If you are using the mask to conceal your identity after committing a crime
- If you are wearing a mask while you commit a crime, such as assault, battery, or robbery
Stay Safe this Halloween
Halloween is a busy night for law enforcement, with police officers working at full capacity to prevent wrongdoing. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we’re wishing you a very safe and happy holiday. If you do end up needing legal representation after your Halloween festivities, our experienced legal team can provide the high-quality representation that you deserve. Bringing over 50 years of experience to the table, it’s our job to protect your basic rights and freedoms by giving you a proper defense.
Call (800) 462-7160 today for a free consultation with our legal team.