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Criminal Law and COVID-19

| Apr 29, 2020 | Criminal

Intersections between criminal and public health law do exist. In Florida, section 381.00315, relating to public health advisories; public health emergencies; isolation and quarantines, creates a misdemeanor for violating “any rule adopted” pursuant to the section. Of course, this includes “any isolation or quarantine, or any requirement adopted … pursuant to a declared public health emergency”.

A person can be arrested for this criminal violation, even though it is a misdemeanor. Any criminal case exposes a Defendant to incarceration. There have been a lot of rumors spread during the pandemic relating to whether and the extent to which local jurisdictions are arresting people. To our knowledge, no sheriff in North Florida has completely ceased making arrests.

Within the Fifth Judicial Circuit, any person arrested for violating a section 381.00315 Quarantine Order, “who is reasonably believed to be infected with the coronavirus or who is reasonably believed to have been exposed … is presumed to involve a danger to the public health. Due to the danger to the public health for such a violation, the bond shall initially be set at no bond.” [internal quotations omitted]. Quoting a case from the Florida Supreme Court in 1943, the administrative order reasons that “[t]o grant release on bail to persons isolated and detained on a quarantine order because they have a contagious disease which makes them dangerous to others, or to the public in general, would render quarantine laws and regulations nugatory and of no avail.”

The Fifth Circuit encompasses Marion, Citrus, Lake, Sumter and Hernando counties. Fortunately, the judge at First Appearance which takes place the day after an arrest, does have the discretion to modify the no bond status, if appropriate.

Any arrest is scary. Going through the system with and advisor can make it less scary. To hire a lawyer please click, call or fill out the form.

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