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Can Illinois Residents Face Charges if They Violate COVID-19 Orders?

 Posted on March 31, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Will County criminal defense attorney COVID-19

There is no denying the massive impact COVID-19 has had on millions of people all over the world. The new (novel) coronavirus that reportedly originated in China has now spread to other countries, including the United States. The influx of confirmed cases and reported deaths led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare it a global pandemic. Schools, along with non-essential businesses such as shopping malls, movie theaters, bars, restaurants, and sports venues have been closed temporarily. Health and government officials are urging people to practice “social distancing” in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. In many cities and states, there are “shelter in place,” isolation, or quarantine orders in place to protect the health and safety of its citizens. It is important to be aware of these restrictions to avoid any criminal charges. 

Typical Symptoms 

This specific type of coronavirus is highly contagious, and it travels from person to person through droplets from the nose or mouth that are spread when an infected person coughs or exhales. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 mirror upper respiratory illness such as pneumonia and include:

  • Fever

  • Dry cough

  • Body aches

  • Congestion

  • Sore throat 

Some people who are infected do not develop any symptoms and an estimated 80 percent of those infected make a full recovery from the disease without serious medical attention. Elderly individuals and those who have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or heart and lung disease can suffer severe to fatal complications. 

Social Distancing as a Way of Flattening the Curve

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay at home order that went into effect on March 21 and tentatively runs through April 7. Many other states also have similar orders in place, including New York, California, and Washington state, where there has been a high number of coronavirus cases. For those who have been diagnosed with the virus, they are supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

The governor said if citizens who violate the rule refuse to comply, police can obtain a cease and desist order. In some cases, police consider failure to honor the order as a violation of the Illinois Public Health Act, which could result in a Class A misdemeanor charge.

In other instances, an offender could face a misdemeanor charge for reckless conduct. On March 25, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged residents to heed the order to stay home after news reports of people congregating at the lakefront and parks due to the mild weather. Although she does not expect widespread violations, Lightfoot said law enforcement is instructed to educate the public about the importance of the decree and urge them to go home. Fines up to $500 may be issued for anyone who fails to comply with the order.   

Contact a Will County Criminal Defense Lawyer

With constant news updates regarding the spread of COVID-19, it is normal for people to feel uneasy. At McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we understand your concerns about the virus and how it has impacted your life. If you or someone you know is facing charges for violating a stay at home or quarantine order, it is important that you seek professional legal counsel. Our knowledgeable Joliet criminal defense attorneys will build a solid defense on your behalf to avoid any further anxiety or stress during these tumultuous times. Call us today at 815-727-0100 to schedule your free consultation. 






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