States and cities have the power to mandate whether residents must stay home, and which businesses may remain opened or closed in response to the coronavirus. The governor’s order requires residents to limit their time away from home except when they engage in essential activities. In Arizona, essential activities include working essential jobs and exercising.
If you fail to comply with the lockdown order, you may face criminal penalties. However, law enforcement has been instructed to provide residents with an opportunity to comply with lockdown orders before they perform an arrest. The governor of Arizona has expressed concern over protecting the civil liberties of Arizona residents and wishes to strike a balance.
Law enforcement is empowered under A.R.S. § 26-303(E)(1). The violation of a lockdown order is a Class 1 misdemeanour. You might face fines and up to six months in prison.
The law enforcement officer must first inform you of the requirements and give you a chance to comply with the new shutdown orders. They also cannot ask for your papers or proof that your activities are justified. If the officer does choose to seek criminal charges, you are unlikely to face jail time and will more likely be issued a citation to appear in court. You will most likely pay a fine.
The governor also provided the Department of Health Services with the power to create regulations. Violating some of these regulations would be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and may involve fines and jail time in rare cases.
If you place others in danger, you may face more serious penalties. For example, the Arizona criminal code has a section called “Offenses Against Public Order”. This includes conduct that is “unreasonable under the circumstances”, and “recklessly creates a condition that endangers the health or safety of others”. Those who violate this have committed a Class 3 misdemeanor. Also, if you injure the health of someone else, this is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.
For those who receive a Class 2 misdemeanor, you may be imprisoned for up to four months. For those who committed a Class 3 misdemeanor, you may be imprisoned for up to 30 days.
If you are arrested for violating the lockdown order, you may want to contact a lawyer. The last thing you want on your record is a misdemeanor charge. Not only can the fines and possible imprisonment substantially disrupt your life, but you will have a criminal record regardless of how minor the crime was.
This record will always follow you, and some employers have blanket bans on any type of conviction. A college admissions office may also learn about the misdemeanor and deny your application as a result. Landlords will sometimes deny an applicant when they discover a misdemeanor on their record. It is vital for anyone being charged with a misdemeanor to do their utmost to try to avoid being found guilty.
To avoid a criminal record for a lockdown violation, you could argue that you were engaging in an activity allowed under the lockdown orders. For example, you are allowed to exercise and walk your dog as long as you follow social distancing rules. You may also be accused of not staying at home when you were actually on your property during the incident.
You may face criminal charges if you have a gathering of more than ten people. However, your defense may allege that one of the individuals in the gathering was not supposed to be a part of the gathering or was not close enough to the rest of the group to be considered a part of the group. Another defense crafted by a criminal lawyer against the violation may be that you were placed under duress or coercion. Any threat of intended harm to force you to perform an action would be considered duress. You may have also violated the lockdown order as an act of self-defense.
With Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, you will be able to obtain the services of a knowledgeable attorney to help you defend against the charges.