On March 19, 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, requiring residents to remain in their homes throughout each day and non-essential businesses to close until further notice. While people can leave their homes to exercise or perform essential tasks, doing anything else outdoors means violating the stay-at-home order.
What Happens If You Violate the California Stay-at-Home Order?
Residents and businesses that violate the order can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and a maximum $1,000 fine. However, each county has discretion on how they want to enforce social distancing rules.
On the weekend ending on April 5, law enforcement officials cited 129 violations in Manhattan Beach. A citation carries a fine of up to $1,000.
Fortunately, the police have no desire for punishing people during a crisis, often electing to give violators warnings. Yet, if a person continuously fails to comply with a warning, officers will issue a citation.
Can Protestors Get Cited?
Recently, many protests against the statewide stay-at-home order have occurred throughout Southern California, calling for quarantine to end and more businesses to reopen. Although someone was arrested in Huntington Beach for threatening a news cameraman, there have been no arrests for violating social distancing guidelines.
In cities where there have been demonstrations, police officers are respecting the protesters’ First Amendment right to free speech. Additionally, they are making sure people are following the health laws.
Demonstrators who are protesting peacefully and keeping their distance from one another may avoid a citation. However, walking in the middle of the street is a violation of local ordinances and can lead to criminal penalties.
If you have been arrested in Newport Beach or anywhere Orange County, contact Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC today and schedule a free consultation. Get more than 100 years of combined experience on your side.