Mar 31, 2020 Stay home order in Virginia allows exceptions says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Stay at home decree in Virginia has exceptions that Fairfax criminal lawyer wants you to know
Stay at home was announced by Virginia’s governor this week, but thankfully with numerous exceptions to not make people complete prisoners of their homes. As a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer and civil libertarian, I encourage commonwealth residents to read the relatively brief stay-at-home order (Executive Order) and its predecessor companion business restriction order, to know that we still get to leave our homes, to a point, during this pandemic.
Know your rights with the Virginia governor’s limits on our comings and goings
The stay home Executive Order provides that all “individuals in Virginia shall remain at their place of residence, except as provided below by this Order and Executive Order 53.” Numerous exceptions allow leaving one’s home. People may shop for various foodstuffs and goods, with social distancing and capacity maximum rules still applying, except where such maximums do not apply. People may leave home to visit health care professions, obtain essential social services, and get government services. People may care for humans and animals and visit family members. They may spend time outdoors. They may travel to and from their residence, workplace and house of worship and educational institutions.
Up to one year in jail is available for certain violations of the stay at home order
Violating the following provisions of the Virginia stay at home order is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $2,500 fine or both: prohibited gatherings of over ten people, reserving private campgrounds for less than two weeks, going to the beach except for exercising and fishing, Where, as here, the executive order does not expressly make most of the other activities listed therein a jailable offense, they arguably are not jailable unless expressly made jailable under another executive order. Va. Code § 44-146.17.
Did Liberty University and crowdmongers spur this executive order?
The Virginia stay at home order came shortly days after private Liberty University reopened following the school’s president calling a parent a “dummy” for opposing the reopening. Some beaches were even recently crowded. Had such glaring infection spreaders not been rubbed in the public’s face, maybe the Executive Order would not have gotten issued.
Police must not use this executive order as an excuse for pretextual stops of people
The United States Supreme Court eroded the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution when it permitted pretextual police stops, whereby a police officer stops a person or motor vehicle for such minor law violations as a minor vehicle equipment violation or traffic violation, with the actual police intention of fishing for more serious criminal activity. This stay home Executive Order risks a similar police abusive road, which is antithetical to the Fourth Amendment and the Constitution generally.
Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. Please call 703-383-1100 to schedule a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal case.