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Can You Get Arrested For Breaking A Quarantine?

If you've been told to stay in quarantine, you may be wondering what would happen if you don't listen. Some people might say you could get arrested, but is that true? Here's what you should know.

There Are Mandatory and Voluntary Orders

Some orders to quarantine or shelter in place are mandatory, while others are voluntary. If you're not sure which one applies to your area, go on your local government's website and read the exact order rather than relying on the news.

If the order is voluntary, you can't be charged with anything. The problem is the police might not understand the order, so they may still arrest you. As with any police encounter, politely explain your position, but don't fight. Your criminal defense attorney will help you have your day in court.

Even Mandatory Orders Have Exceptions

Even strict mandatory quarantine orders almost always have exceptions. For example, police, healthcare workers, and grocery store employees all need to be able to get out to perform essential services. People who don't have essential jobs may be allowed to go get food or exercise.

This is another area where you may have problems with police not understanding an order or not believing that an exception applies to you. Again, even if you're wrongfully arrested, you will still get your day in court.

It Depends on Who Gave the Order and Where You Live

Whether you need to follow a quarantine order and if there'd be consequences for you depends on who issued the order and where you live. A governor's order applies to the entire state, but a mayor's order only applies within their city limits. Even if you consider yourself to be from a certain city, if you really live outside of the city limits, that mayor's orders don't apply for you if you don't enter the city.

Yes, Quarantine Orders Are Constitutional

Many people violate quarantine orders or want to fight charges because they believe the government can't make mandatory quarantines under the Constitution. Judges have almost always upheld these orders during a public health crisis, since they start with an assumption the government is doing it for an important reason. It's possible a judge might rule certain orders were unconstitutional, but you should know the chances of winning on this issue in court are very low.

To learn more about what could happen if you break a quarantine or to get help if you've had charges filed against you, talk to a criminal defense lawyer today, or reach out to firms like the Wilder Law Firm.