These are scary times for lots of people. Some people are afraid of getting sick. Some people are afraid of losing their businesses if states are not reopened soon. Some people are afraid of being evicted or losing their homes if they cannot pay their rent or mortgage. Even as some restrictions are lifted, some people are still concerned about losing their freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For now, there is much uncertainty and debate about the extent to which current government mandates are infringing on our basic civil rights. Even so, there may be serious consequences for violating orders imposed during the pandemic. Let us share more information with you right now.
First, let’s discuss possible criminal sanctions using our own state of Florida. Theoretically, anyone who ignores the stay-at-home order imposed by Governor Ron DeSantis could be charged with a criminal offense. Specifically, someone breaking quarantine without valid reason could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. The consequences upon conviction could include a maximum fine of $500, up to 60 days in jail and as much as six months probation.
Furthermore, news reports share that people who deliberately expose others to COVID-19 may also face criminal charges. Before that can happen, know that applicable laws must be created. Perhaps, these laws would be modeled on existing Florida laws regarding the deliberate spread of infections and disease. This may mean that someone who knowingly exposes others to COVID-19 could potentially face first- or second-degree misdemeanor charges.
We should also discuss the enforcement of mask and face covering requirements. By now, residents of many Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties are likely aware that they are supposed to be wearing face coverings or masks. As per relevant government orders, people should wear items that cover their noses and mouths while they are in grocery stores or other businesses. In cities like Miami, for example, residents are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings whenever they leave home. They also can be required to wear them in businesses. Although anyone who fails to comply could be fined, police will reportedly emphasize education and awareness prior to issuing them.
If you or someone you love has been charged with any offense related to COVID-19, they have a right to legal representation. Contact our law firm, day or night, to learn how we may be able to help you and your family.