When the coronavirus began to heat up in Florida, the state government took decisive action to keep residents safe. One of these actions was implementing quarantine rules to reduce the spread of the virus. People who were exposed to COVID-19, displaying symptoms, or knew they had the virus, were required to self-isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days.
After issuing several warnings to Florida residents, police officers in some counties began arresting people for violating quarantine or isolation directives. The Supreme Court of Florida has supported these measures, stating that anyone arrested for violating quarantine orders will be held without bond until their first appearance.
As the state continues Phase 1 of reopening, some residents may be facing charges for violating quarantine. If you are looking at a criminal record due to the quarantine, you are urged to contact a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach.
Violating Quarantine is an Arrestable Offense in Florida
People throughout the state of Florida have been arrested for violating quarantine orders. Chief Judge Michael T. McHugh signed the directive in early April stating that people who are arrested won’t be given a “Notice to Appear,” nor will they be released on bond. A Notice to Appear is a written order issued by a law enforcement officer that police officers may use instead of a physical arrest. The notice requires a person accused of an offense to attend a designated court or government office at a specific date and time.
Per this order, whoever is arrested for violating quarantine will need to wait until they appear before a judge for their first appearance before knowing whether they may be released from jail. Once they appear before the judge, the judge has the authority to decide whether to keep them in jail or let them reenter the community.
The first appearance judge may accept testimony from a State Health Officer or the Florida Department of Health before deciding whether to set a bond or bail. Anyone who violates requirements set by the Florida Department of Health after a declaration of a public health emergency commits a second-degree misdemeanor offense.
What are the Penalties for Violating Quarantine in Florida?
Due to several people who tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus ignoring quarantine orders, police officers now have the authority to arrest individuals who put others’ health at risk. Violating quarantine is a second-degree misdemeanor offense for which offenders may face:
- A fine of up to $500
- Jail period of up to 60 days
- Both of the above
Quarantine rules also extend to visitors to Florida from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Those visiting from these areas must isolate or quarantine for 14 days from the time of entry to Florida or the duration of your stay (whichever is shorter).
Contact Gabriel Law Team After a Coronavirus-Related Arrest in West Palm Beach
A second-degree misdemeanor offense can have a significant negative impact on your future and will change your way of life. With the help of an aggressive defense lawyer, it may be possible to have your charge reduced or dismissed.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has represented people accused of criminal offenses throughout Palm Beach County for more than 25 years. Find out what he can do for you by calling 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.