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Penalties for Violating Shelter-At-Home Orders

The coronavirus pandemic has brought huge changes to the world, and we have noticed that many big questions are weighing heavily on people’s minds. While we don’t have answers to the big uncertainties, like how long this will last or the best ways to stay healthy, there is one commonly asked question that as criminal law attorneys we are uniquely positioned to answer: What are the criminal ramifications of violating a shelter-at-home order?

First, let us say that we strongly believe that it is our moral imperative to stay home and do our part in keeping this disease from spreading. We don’t think that “I’m not sick” is a good excuse for violating these orders because it has been proven that many people can carry COVID-19 without displaying symptoms. Venturing out of your home puts you in the position of potentially infecting someone vulnerable, or even infecting someone who will infect someone vulnerable. Lives are at stake and it’s simply not worth the risk. 

That being said, we know that this is a question people are curious about even if they have no intention of violating the orders. We also know that understanding that violating shelter-at-home orders will lead to major consequences will help some realize that there are personal repercussions for violations as well as big-picture repercussions, which will hopefully discourage them from taking the risk!

So let’s get down to it. 

The specific criminal charges for violating a stay-at-home order vary by city as well as by state. This is because different places have different requirements regarding the strictness of the orders, and because different police forces are handling the situation in different ways. In general, if you venture out for non-essential purposes, you would likely first be asked by police to comply and, if you refuse, you may be found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor. Let’s look at some examples of consequences you may face:

Fines: Many are facing tough times financially during this pandemic, and violating shelter-in-place orders can add another cost to your list. In many places, violators will be ticketed and fined.  

Arrest: In other places, you will be arrested and charged for violating a shelter-in-place order. Courts take these issues seriously. An arrest will go on your criminal record and may lead to jail time.

Jail time: You may have to spend time in jail for violating orders to stay home. Now is a particularly bad time to land in jail, because like all crowded places, there is fear jails could be a breeding ground for the virus. Time in jail is more of a threat now than ever before.

Suspension of business license: If you open your non-essential business in violation of a city-wide or state-wide order, you may be subject to the revocation of your business license. This means jeopardizing your customers’ and employees’ health will also jeopardize your business’s ability to run legally in the future.

If you have more questions about criminal law in the time of coronavirus, if you’ve been accused of violating the orders, or if you’ve been accused of another crime, our law firm is here to help you. Contact us today!

Interrogation Tactics

Depending on how familiar you are with law enforcement, you might be surprised to learn that police have a wide array of interrogation techniques available to them that seem shady but are, in fact, legal. The interrogation process as a whole is designed to pull out all the stops and bring a confession out of subjects. To better prepare you for the psychological and emotional appeals that police might use on you if you are ever interrogated, we have compiled a guide describing some common techniques used. 

Reid Technique

Most aspects of the Reid technique have been adapted by police departments across the U.S., including here in Michigan. There are many features of the comprehensive technique, but the technique involves two interrogators playing good cop/bad cop. If the Reid technique is being used against you, the bad cop will proclaim that you are guilty and any claims otherwise are a waste of everyone’s time. The good cop will usually imply that there is some justification for the alleged crime. During the interrogation, you will be seated on an uncomfortable chair in a windowless room.

Can Detectives Lie During an Interrogation?

There is somewhat of a misconception that police officers can say just about anything to get suspects to confess. It is true that interrogators can falsely tell you that evidence has been collected from the crime scene that points to you as the culprit. This just happened in a high-profile case I went to trial on last summer. Expect the police to tell you that witnesses or accomplices have ratted you out, even if it is not true. However, police may not promise you that you will avoid prison if you confess, for example, or make explicit threats against you or your family. 

How Should You Behave During an Interrogation?

If you have been detained or arrested, it is not in your best interest to speak with any member of law enforcement. Many suspects cooperate during investigations because they believe it will reflect poorly upon them in court if they immediately ask for a lawyer. This is not true, and police might exploit that fear in order to get suspects to open up. The best thing to do is to simply say, firmly and politely, “I would like an attorney present during any questioning.” Repeat this until your wishes are granted. 

What If I Think the Police Acted Unlawfully During My Interrogation?

Call a lawyer immediately! An experienced and quality criminal defense attorney will be able to expose dirty or illegal interrogation techniques used by law enforcement and file a motion to have any evidence collected ruled as inadmissible. Attorney J. Dallo is extremely comfortable scrutinizing every aspect of your arrest and interrogation to determine if there was any wrongdoing. Call the firm today at (248) 283-7002.