Violating Shelter-in-Place Orders Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Violating Shelter-in-Place Orders Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Crime is going down in New York City and most everywhere else. Even hardened criminals don’t want to catch this virus. New York City is, of course, one of the epicenters of this pandemic.

Yet this truth comes hand-in-hand with the fact that there’s a new crime to worry about: violating the PAUSE act.

“PAUSE” stands for “Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone.” It’s the governor’s order, the one which essentially shuts down the state.

Non-essential businesses must close. Gatherings of over ten people are prohibited. New Yorkers are supposed to be staying at home unless it’s to get to the grocery store or to go to a medical appointment. Or, if you’re an essential worker, to work.

What happens if you don’t obey?

First, you should know police officers are patrolling looking for people who aren’t paying attention to the order. They’ve chased people out of public parks and some bars and restaurants which have been caught violating the order.

So far they haven’t arrested anyone who was just hanging around with other people. Yet if you ignore a police officer who is trying to chase you out of an area you can be charged with disorderly conduct.

Criminal charges are mostly reserved for the organizers of events like weddings and funerals, or business owners. So far only one business owner has been charged with violating the order, a misdemeanor crime. 2000 other bar owners did not get charged, so one might imagine the one that did ended up with his charges in part because he was operating an unlicensed speakeasy.

The governor is losing his patience and has announced violators will be fined up to $500. As the crisis continues to grow it’s reasonable to expect the consequences of non-compliance may grow right along with them.

Anyone who doesn’t comply with the order is putting the public at risk, and is doing so at a time when health officials are predicting up to 240,000 deaths from the disease nationwide.

Bail reform means you’re unlikely to spend time in jail over this behavior. So do present efforts to get people out of Rikers Island. All the same, the consequences (serious illness or death from COVID-19) are so much worse.

The purpose of sheltering in place is to “flatten the curve” so hospitals don’t get overwhelmed. Unfortunately, they already are. That’s why a Naval hospital ship is sitting in the harbor.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home.

And if you are dealing with a criminal charge, give our office a call 24-7.

See also:

What is Criminal Mischief in NYC?

Common Examples of Healthcare Fraud

Selecting the Best Criminal Defense Attorney For You