Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting the daily lives of everyone in a way most have never experienced before.
Maybe you heard the news about the Florida megachurch pastor who was arrested after he ignored executive orders prohibiting gatherings of more than ten people.
Or maybe you may have also heard about some tailgaters in Radisson who got busted when they partied in a parking lot.
Or the bar in Brooklyn that decided to stay open in the face of these orders.
We have had people contact Nave Law, wondering what happens to people who violate executive orders prohibiting non-essential work in office spaces, restaurants, bars, and hair salons from serving customers on-premises, and social gatherings of any size.
So we wanted to break it break that down for you. However, because we are attorneys, let us answer that question first by explaining WHAT the executive order is.
New York State Executive Law Section 28 permits the Governor of New York to declare a disaster emergency in an area of the State, or the entire State, lasting for six months. Governor Cuomo did just that on March 7, 2020, by issuing Executive Order 202. Using his authority under Executive Law Section 29-A to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Governor then issued several more executive orders suspending various state laws and ordering all employers, except for those that provide essential services, to reduce in-person workforce capacity to 100%. Gyms, shopping malls, bowling alleys, and nearly any other public space were ordered closed. While restaurants and bars were also ordered to be closed, those that could deliver meals and beverages via delivery or takeout were permitted to stay open. To see a complete list of essential services, click here.
OK, so now to answer the question, what happens if I ignore the stay at home order?
Section 24 of the Executive Law reveals that a violation of a county’s executive order is punishable by a class B misdemeanor, which is a crime. If you look at the Penal Law, which defines various crimes and sentences, you’ll see that a class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine, along with the costs of your friendly, neighborhood defense attorney at Nave Law.
Although the statute authorizing the Governor’s executive orders does not have a punishment section like Section 24 does, Executive Order 202.8 explained that a violation of the order to reduce in-person workforces by 100% would be punishable under Section 12 of the Public Health Law. That law says that a person who violates Section 12 could be liable to the State for a civil penalty of up to $2,000. The very next section of the Public Health Law, Section 12-b, says that a willful or intentional violation of the law is punishable by an unclassified misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and a fine not exceeding $2,000.
Even if you don’t catch one of these violations for failing to abide by an Executive Order, law enforcement could charge you with any number of offenses under the Penal Law, such as criminal nuisance, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental administration.
Our recommendation: stay home, take care of your kids, get your work done if you can work from home, and watch some Netflix. We recommend, purely for entertainment purposes, Tiger King, Ozark, Making a Murderer, or maybe you want to watch Doomsday Preppers.
The bottom line is that we highly suggest that you follow the Executive Order, not that we agree with the order itself; however, we need to do our part to help New York flatten the curve.
Everyone here at the Nave Law Firm wishes you good health for all of those affected by Coronavirus. If you need an attorney, we have been deemed essential, so please don’t hesitate to contact us at 315-285-6283.
The exclusive purpose of this article is educational, and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. If you need legal advice stemming from a violation of an executive order, or any other legal matter, please contact the Nave Law Firm at 1-855-349-NAVE.