What Happens If You Violate the Coronavirus Lockdown?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Mar 31, 2020 | Criminal Defense

In quick sequence, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom delivered orders forcing most residents to remain home and limit their social interaction until further notice.

The move – not seen in modern times – is aimed at curbing the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

While the orders allow for people to leave their homes for exercise and essential needs, people are for the most part required to stay inside and refrain from gatherings of 10 or more people.

What Can Happen to Me If I Violate the Coronavirus Lockdown?

This is no time to test the patience and authority of the law. Law enforcement officials can use California health and safety codes for enforcement of the order. 

If you violate the order to stay home except for essential needs, you could be facing fines up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. 

Additional penalties can be tacked on for each day you violate the order.

How Long Will the Lockdown Last?

The order from the governor affects most of the nearly 40 million Golden State residents, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Alameda, Riverside, Santa Clara, and others.

As for how long the lockdown will last, no one really knows for sure. 

Speaking with The Mercury News, a professor of social and natural science said, “I would guess a couple of months of lock-down would flatten the curve in California to a level we’ll be able to cope with.”

The goal behind the “flatten the curve” term is to reduce the number of people in need of urgent medical care at the same time.

What Should I Do If I’m Charged with Violating the Lockdown?

Because the charge is a misdemeanor, many people make the mistake of not taking the law seriously enough. Even with a misdemeanor, the penalties are very real. 

If you are charged with violating the lockdown, you definitely need the skillset of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the legal process.

Trust us on this: the criminal justice system is a different environment than anything you’ve experienced before. One seemingly innocent mistake on your part during the legal process can have a long-lasting impact on the rest of your life, including your ability to find work, rent or own a home, obtain a loan, etc. 

There’s no doubt that the best way to have the charges dismissed or at least have the possible penalties reduced is to have a criminal defense attorney by your side. 

When Can I Legally Leave My Home?

Under the Governor’s orders, it’s requested you leave home only for essential activity.

This can include:

  • Going to the grocery store for supplies
  • Providing care for a relative, friend, or pet
  • Collecting household items and cleaning products
  • Working for an essential business, which includes hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, healthcare suppliers, airports, utility providers, public transportation, waste collection and removal, telecommunications providers, court personnel, law enforcement, emergency responders, dispatchers, and others. 

When you do venture out for any of the above reasons, you’re reminded to maintain at least a 6-foot distance from other people.

Can I Travel?

Travel is permitted in certain instances, including:

  • To take care of any of the above essential activities
  • Traveling to provide care for children, those with disabilities, the elderly or vulnerable people
  • Going to pick up a meal at a university or restaurant that offers takeout
  • Travel that’s mandated by the law or a court order
  • Going home from an outside area. 

If you’re thinking about leaving your home, here’s a list of places that will be closed throughout the duration of the lockdown:

  • Movie theaters and venues with live performances
  • All nightclubs and bars that do not serve food
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Los Angeles Unified School District locations
  • Libraries (you can, however, still enjoy access to the e-books and digital subscriptions)
  • Recreation and parks services.

Exceptions for these include restaurants that provide food for takeout or delivery, grocery stores, pharmacies, and food banks. Houses of worship are encouraged to observe social distancing practices and look for alternative ways for delivering their messages of faith. 

Despite the attempts by some to minimize the dangers of the coronavirus, the truth is that this is serious business. The lockdown orders made by officials at the highest levels are unprecedented – and were made for deadly serious reasons. 

Remember, if you are charged with violating the lockdown – even if you are falsely accused – your best course of action is to contact a criminal defense attorney who has the experience to fight for your freedom.