Is It Legal to Wear a Mask on Halloween?
Leaves are changing, the air is getting cooler (at least some days), and
Christmas trees are beginning to appear in department stores everywhere.
These signs can only mean one thing: Halloween is on its way.
That's a good thing, especially for those who love to dress up. Whether
you plan to be silly, clever, or scary, there is a certain element of
freedom in dressing up one night a year and being someone that you aren't.
But is it really ok? We have received emails from cautious individuals
wondering if they need to change their costume plans. Interestingly, because
masks and disguises have historically been used to intimidate others,
there are laws against wearing of such costumes.
According to North Carolina State Law, it is
illegal for anyone over the age of 16 (legal adult) to wear a mask or hood over
your face so as to conceal the identity of the person wearing the mask.
North Carolina General Statutes § 14-12.7-10 ban the wearing of masks
and hoods on public streets, sidewalks, public property (such as a park
or building), and also on private property. This ban even extends to disguising
a person's voice! Moreover, violating this ban on masks and disguises
will result in a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
However, there are certain exceptions to the ban on disguises. A person
under the age of 16 is not subject to this law. Meetings or demonstrations
on private property are also exempt if the person or persons seeking to
wear disguises obtain written permission from the owner or occupier of
the property, which must "be recorded in the office of the register
of deeds of the county in which said property is located." Also,
masks in theatrical productions or for protective purposes are further
exempt. Finally, and perhaps most pertinently, North Carolina General
Statute § 14-12.11 makes an exemption for any person wearing a traditional
holiday costume in season.
Because Halloween would fit into the "traditional holiday costumes
in season" exception, you may feel free to take advantage of the
one day that allows a loophole big enough for everyone to fit into. So
have fun and be safe in your Halloween disguise this year.