- Can You Be Arrested for Breaking Coronavirus Quarantine Rules or Curfew in Florida?
- Fines and Consequences for Businesses that Don't Observe the Mandated Closures
- Consequences of Breaking a Coronavirus or COVID-19 Quarantine
- Risk of Arrest for Breaking Quarantine Rules or Curfew in Florida
- Issues with Breaking Quarantine in Florida…
- Consequences for Knowingly Spreading Coronavirus in Florida?
- For example, the 70-something man who boarded the flight is now banned from flying on JetBlue in the future.
- The Enforcement of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders
- How orders can be enforced
- Emerging concerns with enforcement
- Police are arresting and fining people for violating social distancing orders
- Church services
- House parties
- Enforcing the shutdown: Law enforcement grapples with policing stay-at-home orders, social distancing, quarantines
- 'Countless lives in jeopardy'
- Enforcement sporadic
Can You Be Arrested for Breaking Coronavirus Quarantine Rules or Curfew in Florida?
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Broward County, with more about 20,000 confirmed cases between Broward, Palm and Miami-Dade Counties as of May 11. The rules for self isolation and quarantine are no joke – in fact, breaking a quarantine in Florida could result in an arrest and a second-degree misdemeanor charge.
With coronavirus rapidly spreading, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beaches are saw closures and more than 40,000 people in Florida have confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, as of May 11.
As of July 9, about 24,000 people have had confirmed cases of COVID19 due to being infected with the coronavirus. In Broward and Miami-Dade, more than 1,400 people have died from COVID-19 so far.
South Florida quickly became the epicenter of the coronavirus in the state of Florida.
To help aid the ever-growing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, more than 170 Florida National Guard medics were activated in Broward County.
Monday, March 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis Said he expects a near-lockdown in South Florida to last until mid-May, according to NBC 6 South Florida.
Fines and Consequences for Businesses that Don't Observe the Mandated Closures
Certain shops and businesses are opening thier doors illegally in order to conduct business and turn a profit during desperate times (with more than 33 million people without jobs and more underemployed), according to the Sun Sentinel.
A Barber in Miramar recently took the risk, and opened his doors for business. He was fined $65 by Miramar officials. Counting it as an expense to continue being in business, he remained open.
The man then got fined a second time – but for $165 the second time.
Officers threatened to fine all the barbers in his shop, so the man finally gave up and closed his doors again for fear of losing licenses.
The Sun Sentinel also found other non-essential businesses opening their doors to customers – banking on not being caught.
Citations can range from $50 to $500.
Related: —> Are Mask Mandates Unconsitutional In Florida? Find the Legal answer here!
Consequences of Breaking a Coronavirus or COVID-19 Quarantine
Ever since Gov. DeSantis issued the stay-at-home order for Florida, breaking the quarantine became a criminal offense in Florida. If you are caught breaking quarantine for non-essential purposes, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
The consequences of a second-degree misdemeanor include fines up to $500, up to 60 days in jail and even up to 6 months of probation.
The reality is, the chances of being arrested for something else during quarantine is higher as less people are out and about.
For example, the Palm Beach Post reported four people charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for violating the emergency declaration — the article stated their maximum sentence would be 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
This charge, however, was tacked on to a criminal charges the three men and woman got. The four are facing charges involving drug possession, DUI, theft and lying to police.
While laws vary by state, people who ignore the rules could face fines or jail time according to The New York Times. Arrests could be slightly questionable, as reasonable law enforcement officials should not seek to put others’ health at risk by placing someone with a deadly communicable disease into custody.
“An infected person blatantly ignoring an order might be forced to go into medical isolation — that is, some form of locked hospital ward,” NYT reports.
Risk of Arrest for Breaking Quarantine Rules or Curfew in Florida
Arrests are very much in question for those who don’t self-quarantine, according to local law enforcement.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw announced Friday that his office will arrest people who do violate quarantine orders. He warned that for people with an order of confinement from the Florida Department of Health, his office is prepared to enforce the confinement orders if people take them too casually, according to Boca News Now.
There will be trouble for those breaking other rules in place during this time, as well.
Starting Friday, March 27, Miami issued a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in hopes of helping to curb the spread of coronavirus, according to the Miami Herald. “Police would have the ability to stop, question and arrest anyone out in public during this time period,” according to the article.
Miami's City Manager, Art Noriega, said the police department will be enforcing the curfew rules nightly. This rule will not apply to the city's homeless population. While the idea isn't for police to just throw people into jail, Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said they will be enforcing the curfew.
Masks Required Countywide in South Florida
Wearing masks is now mandated in most of South Florida.
Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County all issued orders mandating residents and visitors to cover their faces with a mask (or bandana, scarf, etc.) when shopping in supermarkets or other business, according to Sun Sentinel. People working in businesses are also required to wear masks – the only exceptions are people under 2 years old and people who have trouble breathing.
Miami and Fort Lauderdale (and other cities) also ask people to cover their faces when in public, period. These orders are more request than requirements – officials are asking people to cover their faces anytime they leave the house, but it's not required unless you're inside a business.
Police officers will be enforcing the face mask rule, but will seek to educate before issuing fines, according to Miami's Mayor. If business owners don't enforce the rule, they could face fines or be shut down.
Related: —> Are Mask Mandates Unconsitutional In Florida? Find the Legal answer here!
Issues with Breaking Quarantine in Florida…
One of the concerns we have as criminal defense attorneys is: What will happen when people with mental health diagnoses break quarantine?
If someone has a mental health diagnosis or mental handicap or disability of any kind, the chances of an encounter with police not going well are high.
The person may be more uncooperative due to not understanding the issue or what is going on.
If someone with a mental health diagnosis is confronted for breaking quarantine, it is also ly they may receive other charges such as: resisting an officer, battery on a law enforcement officer, or fleeing or eluding the police.
It would be very easy for a quarantine arrest to escalate quickly if police are not aware of the entire situation.
Consequences for Knowingly Spreading Coronavirus in Florida?
Similarly, people who knowingly spread Coronavirus and put others at risk of contracting COVID-19 may soon face legal trouble.
A traveler who boarded a JetBlue flight to Palm Beach March 11 boarded the flight without notifying anyone of his pending coronavirus test, according to Sun Sentinel.
Bradshaw and other prosecutors confirmed to Sun Sentinel that they’re looking into charging people who knowingly expose others to 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said the Florida Legislature may get involved to address situations such as these.
In Texas, a teen was charged with a felony for making a terroristic threat for going out in public, claiming she was purposefully spreading the coronavirus.
Besides arrests, other consequences are also imminent and already taking place for those who don’t abide by the isolation and quarantine rules in Florida.
For example, the 70-something man who boarded the flight is now banned from flying on JetBlue in the future.
Rossen Law Firm certainly wishes everyone here in South Florida health as we weather this pandemic together. We’re practicing social distancing, combined with some work remotely. We're still open to serve you if you're facing any DUI charges in South Florida, or any criminal charges – whether related to coronavirus and covid19, or not.
The Rossen Law Firm Team
Curious about what could happen if someone intentionally spreads coronavirus or COVID-19? Check out our blog: “Coronavirus Crimes: COVID-19 spread intentionally could land you behind bars or in a lawsuit in Florida” to learn more.
“FLORIDA MAN” and the coronavirus – check out our blog: Coronavirus Crime Chronicles: What you'd only expect from the “Florida Man”
Learn more about Coronavirus and COVID19 laws in Florida here.
Learn more about domestic violence amid the pandemic here.
Learn more about managing relationships in quarantine here.
If you, or anyone you know, needs a criminal or DUI defense attorney you can trust, reach out today to learn about our free strategy sessions. In our sessions, we outline how we’ll fight your case to protect you and your rights.
Fort Lauderdale Office: (754) 206-6200
Sunrise Office: (754) 999-2499
The Enforcement of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Orders
For more information on how various jurisdictions are enforcing stay-at-home orders, see “Tracking Enforcement Measures for Violation of Stay-at-Home Orders.”
To contain the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, jurisdictions nationwide have issued lifesaving directives that order residents to stay home and practice physical distancing unless performing essential activities.
According to estimates from The New York Times, at least 37 states, 74 counties, 14 cities, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have issued stay at home orders as of April 1, 2020—less than two weeks after California issued the nation’s first stay-at-home order on March 19.
As these vitally necessary “stay-at-home” orders proliferate, questions have emerged as to how they will be enforced, given that public officials are beginning to consider the COVID-19 pandemic to be both a public health and public safety issue.
Concerns around enforcement are particularly salient for communities of color and other marginalized communities that have experienced overcriminalization and arrests as the primary responses to substance misuse and mental health crises, among other public health issues.
Below is an overview of the range of approaches that jurisdictions have authorized to enforce COVID-19-related stay-at-home directives, from warnings to civil enforcement to criminal punishment.
To date, most jurisdictions have resisted the approach of arresting people, especially as the first response for failing to comply with executive orders.
But this trend may change as the pandemic deepens.
How orders can be enforced
Many stay-at-home orders include language specifying that noncompliance will be enforced through civil or criminal penalties. Civil penalties can include fines, orders to suspend business operations, and/or revocation of licenses.
For example, Kansas City, Missouri’s stay-at-home order states that a violation of any of its provisions “constitutes an imminent threat, creates an immediate menace to public health, and shall be considered a violation of Section 50-155 of the City’s Code of Ordinances.” This can include “fines, orders to suspend business operations, and other penalties.
” Another example is Indiana’s executive order to discontinue in-person dining, which can result in the “suspension or revocation of an alcoholic beverage permit.”
Criminal enforcement has generally referred to an arrest for a misdemeanor and a fine or possible imprisonment. For instance, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina’s joint proclamation declares that any person who violates any of its prohibitions or restrictions shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s emergency order specifies that a “[v]iolation or obstruction of this Order is punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, or up to $250 fine, or both.
” Other jurisdictions do not specifically reference the criminal penalty in executive orders but add language specifying that a violation of the order will be enforced through existing authorities, which in many cases includes criminal penalties.
Although most jurisdictions have the legal authority to enforce stay-at-home orders, some have taken a measured approach to enforcement.
Most policymakers and law enforcement officials are focused on educating the public about the importance of social distancing measures, rather than arresting or citing individuals who are noncompliant.
In San Francisco, for example, the shelter-in-place order issued by the Department of Public Health explicitly states that any violation of the order is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both; however, these enforcement actions will only be used as “last resort,” according to a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department. “We are not interested in using a criminal justice approach for a public health challenge,” the spokesperson said. “This is about educating the public about voluntary compliance.”
For many communities and families, the stay-at-home orders are a new and unprecedented test, but some jurisdictions are proactively taking steps to avoid confusion and build transparency behind the enforcement measures in use. For example, in San Diego, the sheriff’s office published a document specifying all statutes and penalties relevant to enforcement while clarifying the underlying goals that should be driving all enforcement actions:
While we fully expect the people in San Diego County to recognize the seriousness of this public health threat and we are hopeful no enforcement action is necessary, this information can be used in the event no other resolution can protect public safety. The Sheriff’s goal is to reduce the spread of the disease and thereby protect public safety.
Similarly, the sheriff of Washtenaw County, Michigan, created a resource page including frequently asked questions on enforcement of the governor’s stay-at-home order. In Pennsylvania, Gov.
Tom Wolf (D) issued guidance to police on enforcement of business closures that is freely and publicly available on the state’s coronavirus response website.
And the New Hampshire state attorney general published a memo clarifying the discretion that officers have in enforcing the governor’s order and the mandatory enforcement behind a Department of Health’s quarantine order for an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Other public officials have taken the opposite tack and specifically emphasized that stay-at-home orders will be enforced through the criminal justice system. When Maryland Gov.
Larry Hogan (R) recently issued a stay-at-home order, he specifically warned that violations of the order would be subject to an arrest and incarceration.
But even in these circumstances, local police officials have stated that they hope to resort to arrests only if people do not comply after the order’s potential violations have been explained.
Emerging concerns with enforcement
Most policymakers recognize that stay-at-home orders are a vital tool for protecting public health, not a tool for enhancing sentences for other criminal behaviors.
Nonetheless, these orders are reigniting long-standing concerns about “charge stacking”—the practice of piling on multiple charges for the same criminal act.
This can result in unduly harsh sentences for relatively low-level offenses, exacerbating overcriminalization and mass incarceration.
Unfortunately, some jurisdictions are starting to use stay-at-home orders to engage in charge stacking.
For example, a man in Indiana who was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated was also charged with violating the statewide stay-at-home order—a Class B misdemeanor under Indiana law, carrying a fine of up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail. And in Ohio, a traffic stop resulted in the arrest of two individuals for drug possession and violating the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Other jurisdictions are using emergency declarations as a tool for enhancing penalties for crimes.
In Hawaii, for example, an individual was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal a car battery, an offense classified as a petty misdemeanor and punishable by up to 30 days in jail or an $1,000 fine.
Because the incident occurred during a state of emergency, however, prosecutors upgraded the charge to a Class B felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The novel coronavirus is an unprecedented and rapidly developing emergency situation, and jurisdictions are working hard to respond to a full-blown public health crisis where physical distancing is essential. As this pandemic intensifies, officials must be vigilant in educating and persuading the public to adhere to stay-at-home orders and should only use the criminal justice process as a last resort.
Betsy Pearl is an associate director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress. Lea Hunter and Kenny Lo are research associates for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center. Ed Chung is the vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center.
To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.
Police are arresting and fining people for violating social distancing orders
(CNN)Across the nation, people are under strict orders to follow social distancing guidelines in order to lower the risk of coronavirus spreading.
To comply with new stay-at-home orders, many people have postponed their planned celebrations, everything from birthdays to weddings. Others have canceled big trips. Theaters have closed their doors, concerts and festivals have been delayed, and restaurants have moved to delivery or takeout only.
But, some people have ignored the Trump administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation to avoid mass gatherings and maintain distance from others. As a result, some local officials are cracking down.
In Tampa, Florida on Sunday, a large group of people gathered at River at Tampa Bay Church for Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne's services.
The pastor, who was arrested on Monday and charged with unlawful assembly and a violation of health emergency rules, hosted the services despite public orders urging residents to stay home.
“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said at a news conference. “As well as put thousands of residents who may interact with them in danger.”
Howard-Browne isn't the only pastor to defy orders to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, police in baton Rouge, Louisiana issued Pastor Tony Spell a misdemeanor summons for six counts of violating the governor's executive order barring large gatherings.
Spell, who told CNN he believes the coronavirus pandemic is “politically motivated,” said his March 22 services at Life Tabernacle Church drew in about 1,000 people.
“Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion,” Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said in a statement Tuesday.
Louisiana has been hit hard by coronavirus cases, with at least 239 deaths, according to CNN's tally of US cases. Some models predict the state could be the next epicenter of the virus.
Several people in New Jersey continued with their wedding festivities even after the state restricted large gatherings, according to the New Jersey Attorney General.
In Lakewood, police broke up two separate weddings a day apart from each other. The wedding hosts, Shaul Kuperwasser and Eliyohu Zaks, were both charged with maintaining a nuisance for holding a wedding in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
Just days after the state enacted a stay-at-home order, another wedding host, Meir Gruskin, was charged after holding the gathering at his home on March 24.
In New Jersey, there are at least 18,696 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and at least 267 coronavirus-related deaths, according to CNN's tally.
Police are also cracking down on house parties. In New Jersey, police broke up a party of more than 30 people after responding to a noise complaint in Penns Grove last weekend, the state's Attorney General said in a news release.
Partygoers were seen making videos and posting them on social media, according to the New Jersey Attorney General. The party host, Jacquon Jones, was charged with disorderly conduct for holding a large party in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
The fines and punishment for violating orders differ by state.
In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan said that those who violate the stay-at-home order could face a misdemeanor and be jailed for up to one year or fined $5,000.
In New York City, residents who violate social distancing rules face fines ranging from $250 to $500, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
CNN's Daniel Burke, Jeremy Grisham, Jamiel Lynch and Melanie Schuman contributed to this report.
“,”author”:”Amanda Jackson, CNN”,”date_published”:”2020-04-01T02:43:33.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200330152111-river-church-super-tease.jpg”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/31/us/violating-coronavirus-orders-trnd/index.html”,”domain”:”www.cnn.com”,”excerpt”:”Across the nation, people are under strict orders to follow social distancing guidelines in order to lower the risk of coronavirus spreading.”,”word_count”:586,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Enforcing the shutdown: Law enforcement grapples with policing stay-at-home orders, social distancing, quarantines
Social distancing matters. Here is how to do it and how it can help curb the COVID-19 pandemic. USA TODAY
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is no longer asking.
He’s directing residents to stay home to avoid a larger outbreak of the coronavirus. And his unvarnished warning has had real-world consequences.
Authorities have charged at least two people in recent days with violating bans on public gatherings of more than 10 people – an offense that could result in a year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. Since last week, police agencies across the state have responded to 597 calls reporting potential violations of Hogan's orders, Maryland State Police reported Thursday.
“It was time,” Hogan said this week, “to take more aggressive action.”
We're not playing around: Hogan says arrest for coronavirus offense sends 'great message'
The governor’s declaration mirrors a struggle across the country to enforce a patchwork of new stay-at-home orders, social-distancing directives and quarantines imposed in an effort to contain the march of a deadly virus that had claimed more than 5,000 lives as of Thursday.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a flurry of self-quarantine orders, calling for visitors from heavily-infected states and cities to self-isolate for 14 days or risk 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. In Florida, authorities charged the pastor of a megachurch with violating local orders prohibiting groupings of more than 10 people.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said he has no regrets about taking action against the Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne.
“He left us with no choice,” Chronister said, referring to the weekend church gathering that drew between 400 and 500 worshipers. “We stopped just short of begging him not to put people’s lives in danger.”
Rodney Howard-Browne, pastor of The River Church, was arrested after police say he violated a safer-at-home order by holding services with hundreds of people in attendance. (Photo: Hernando County Jail, AP)
The potential jeopardy, police officials and analysts said, doesn't apply only to the suspected offenders. As law enforcement becomes more engaged in policing the new coronavirus-related prohibitions, they are also risking exposing themselves to infection.
More than 1,000 New York Police Department officers have been infected. In Detroit, hundreds of officers have been quarantined and the police chief has tested positive; in Houston 130 officers have been in isolation and at least a dozen have been infected.
“Law enforcement is being asked to decide what is the greater good,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “The best outcome is to get people to voluntarily comply.
Unfortunately, we're just on the front end of this thing. I fear the public's patience is going to be stretched as time goes on.
If there ever was a time to put community policing into practice, now is the time.”
The popular enforcement strategy, which relies heavily on relationship-building between police and local neighborhoods to mediate disputes, has never been more crucial, said Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
“It's in everybody's best interest to get voluntary compliance, and most of us are trying to to approach it that way,” said Acevedo, who also serves as Houston's police chief.
“We should only use the hammer (arrests or citations) as a measure of last resort. I don't know of any department that has taken a different approach.
We're trying to build bridges, not tear them down.”
Virus infecting cops: As more police get coronavirus, public safety could suffer
'Complete chaos': How the pandemic is upending the criminal justice system
'Countless lives in jeopardy'
A livestream can help distribute content to the masses. Joseph Stoute, a multimedia technician, directed a livestream for congregants at a church in Brooklyn, on March 22, 2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP)
Chronister, the Florida sheriff whose deputies arrested the pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church on Sunday, said he provided Howard-Browne “every opportunity” to avoid the spectacle of a police action.
Starting last Friday, the sheriff said his office contacted the church after learning that it was inviting congregants to weekend services, in violation of the county's ban on large public gatherings. Chronister said the discussions continued through the weekend and included a meeting between sheriff's office officials and church leaders.
“He (the pastor) left us no choice but to exercise our law enforcement authority,” Chronister said, referring to a gathering that swelled to an estimated 400 to 500 worshipers.
“This had nothing to do with the freedom of religion or the right to worship,” the sheriff said, adding that the church has the technology to livestream its services or broadcast them on television. “There was simply no reason to put countless lives in jeopardy.”
Liberty Counsel, the law firm representing Howard-Browne, said the county order banning large gatherings including “faith-based events,” was overly “broad” and open to interpretation.
“Pastor Howard-Browne and the church took extra precautions for the church meeting,” the law firm said, noting that church officials “enforced the six-foot distance between family groups in the auditorium as well as the overflow rooms.”
Officials said all staffers wore gloves, and “every person who entered the church received hand sanitizer.”
“The church spent $100,000 on a hospital grade purification system set up throughout the church that provides continuous infectious microbial reduction that is rated to kill microbes, including those in the coronavirus family,” the firm stated.
Chronister remains unswayed.
“Shame on all of them for making us do our job,” the sheriff said.
Churches in Florida and across the country are expected to draw even more law enforcement scrutiny in the midst of the Easter season. But policing the gatherings may have been made more difficult this week when some state officials, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, declared religious services as “essential” activities.
Abbott, the Texas governor, also has left the door open to religious services.
“If religious services cannot be conducted from home or through remote services, they should be conducted consistent with the guidelines from the president and the (Centers For Disease Control) by practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, and by implementing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the Texas guidelines state.
Mass releases: Jails releasing hundreds amid coronavirus, up from dozens weeks ago
A sign about the coronavirus is displayed over Route 50 in Davidsonville, Md., on Monday. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)
Across the nation, police enforcement has been sporadic as states and localities continue to rely on most residents to comply voluntarily with orders to stay at home and avoid gathering in groups.
But increasingly, some states are patrolling their borders to stop travelers from entering if they do not have “essential” reasons. That’s particularly the case near New York and in states that draw vacationers, such as Florida and Hawaii.
At least 11 states have orders in place directing most non-residents to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering. Another seven states target travelers from particular states, such as New York.
In Hawaii, violators of the stay-at-home order face some of the stiffest penalties on the books to date: fines of up to $5,000 and a year in jail. Police in Honolulu have issued dozens of citations and made at least two arrests, mostly aimed at people gathering in public parks, according to local media reports.
In Florida, which at first targeted only counties in the southeast part of the state before issuing a statewide order Wednesday, checkpoints have been set up on interstate highways. Violators could be fined up to $500, jailed up to 60 days, or both.
“A social gathering in a public space is not an essential activity,” DeSantis' order said, following weeks in which the state's beaches had remained open and crowded. “Local jurisdictions shall ensure that groups of people greater than ten are not permitted to congregate in any public space.”
Washington State, which saw the nation’s first cluster of coronavirus illnesses and deaths, has a 'see something-say something' policy.
Residents are invited to complete online forms detailing suspected violations by local businesses operating when they should be closed.
The state threatens violators with citations, suspension notices, revoked business licenses – even criminal charges.
Some states that order out-of-staters to quarantine themselves for 14 days have drawn complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union for violating travelers' rights.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s order cast a wide net, particularly targeting travelers from “Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Italy, and China.”
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo initially targeted New Yorkers, but objections from the ACLU led her to expand it to anyone entering the state. State police and the National Guard stopped cars and checked the state’s major airport, train stations and bus depots.
Some people have found themselves under arrest for violating coronavirus regulations:
In New Jersey, two Lakewood men were charged with maintaining a nuisance for staging large weddings, and more than a dozen property owners were ticketed for oversized groups.
In New York, the owner of a Brooklyn bar was arrested when more than a dozen people were found drinking and gambling inside what appeared to be a closed facility. Among the charges: reckless endangerment.
At the end of February, the Texas judiciary began preparations for a “storm” that is expected to continue ravaging the country for weeks, if not months.
“We quickly began to realize that we needed to move on a number fronts,” said David Slayton, director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, noting the early global spread of the coronavirus.
Since then, the state has created a kind of parallel court system to handle potential cases arising from quarantine violations and isolation orders now in effect across the state.
A cadre of 31 trial court judges and 25 appellate court justices have been assembled to consider cases. Slayton said all have been provided training by the Health Law and Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center. Another 250 attorneys have been identified to serve as quasi public defender system for suspected offenders, should the need arise.
Noncompliance with public health control orders are Class B misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Penalties could rise to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine if suspects resist or evade arrest.
So far, Slayton said, there has been little need, as only one quarantine violation case has emerged in the Houston area. The case was ultimately resolved after the suspect tested negative for the virus.
“We have not had to use the hammer yet,” said Acevedo, the Houston police chief. “Most people recognize what we're dealing with and they are getting it.”
In recent weeks, Acevedo said officers have been in the streets dispersing larger gatherings and encouraging others to keep their distance.
“So many people are losing jobs on a daily basis as a result of this; we don't want to make their situations worse,” the chief said.
But if there is a need to bring a heavier response, Acevedo said police will not flinch.
“We can't opt police work,” he said.
Last weekend in Chicago, police made a wrenching decision to “expedite” a funeral service at a local church that had drawn up to 60 people, many of them elderly.
Police said they observed many “drinking from the same spiritual cup.”
“Given the public health impacts and the current stay at home order, officers expedited the completion of the funeral service and dispersed patrons,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “This is sincerely the last thing we want to do, but public health during this climate is vastly important for everyone.”
Police made no arrests and issued no citations.
Fact check: What's true and what's false about coronavirus?
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/04/02/coronavirus-police-fines-jail-breaking-stay-home-orders/5104704002/