Since early March 2020, New Jersey has faced an escalating public health crisis that has already changed our lives in drastic ways. It’s inescapable on the news and permeates our everyday life.
Our movements have been limited, businesses closed, and social schedules canceled. In addition to its many effects on our personal lives, the coronavirus pandemic has many legal consequences. COVID-19-related criminal charges are on the rise.
The regulations and executive orders related to coronavirus are new to us all. It’s not surprising that many people in New Jersey are struggling to keep up with the changes. You may unintentionally violate the law or be falsely accused of doing so.
At Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, we have years of experience representing clients as criminal defense attorneys in New Jersey. Like everyone else, we’re adapting to these new and challenging times.
If you need a competent, tested attorney to help you clear your name, the criminal defense law firm Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, is ready to help. Schedule a free consultation to find out how.
An Increase of Domestic Violence Charges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Domestic violence was a serious problem before the pandemic crisis. Right now, all New Jersey residents are required to stay home except for essential trips for necessities. It’s supposed to keep us all safe.
Unfortunately, the stay-at-home order has actually exacerbated some cases of intimate partner violence. The best option for many such victims is often a restraining order and new housing. There are protective laws outlined by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety that allow victims to seek immediate, emergency assistance to escape their abusers.
Sometimes, however, domestic violence charges are the result of misunderstandings or manipulation. Nosy neighbors might overhear a loud disagreement and jump to false conclusions. Disappointed past partners might try to engineer a breakup by spuriously reporting their ex for domestic violence.
Everyone deserves a vigorous defense, and Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC attorneys have tried and true methods for representing your interests and securing the dismissal of your charge.
Intentional COVID-19 Spread
Another criminal charge related to COVID-19 we are seeing is “intentional spread”. Most people would never think of purposefully spreading virus particles by coughing or spitting. We’re all trying to stay healthy and doing our best to keep ourselves and our families safe.
Some people may enjoy making crass jokes, because they’re sure that they’re not sick and think there will be no consequences to their pretend coughs. Others may be provoked into anger during a stressful interaction and lash out.
In any case, the consequences of spreading COVID-19 intentionally can be severe. Local news outlets have reported that a woman coughed on police officers after a car crash. In addition to the driving while intoxicated charge she would face for the collision, she was charged with making terroristic threats and aggravated assault on an officer.
If you’re healthy, you may feel like coughing or telling someone you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 is a good joke. The fines and jail time associated with making a terroristic threat should cure most people of that idea. This, however, is very different from being falsely accused of spreading the virus purposefully. Coughing in public is not a crime, even now. The criminal defense team at Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, can defend you if you’ve been charged with spreading COVID-19.
Breaking COVID-19 Quarantine
Breaking COVID-19 quarantine may be one of the most common new coronavirus crimes. That can mean a few different things. First, you should know the difference between mandatory isolation and the general stay-at-home order that’s generally called quarantine.
If you’ve been around anyone or have been diagnosed and treated for coronavirus, you were likely told by a health official that you must self-isolate. They tell you not to leave your home for any reason, including to get food or other necessities. That’s different from the stay-at-home order, which people sometimes call quarantine. You’re still allowed to leave the house to grocery shop, buy other necessities like medicine and drinks. You can exercise outside, and you can also visit family and close friends.
You can also face charges for running a non-essential business during the crisis. Only services outlined by Governor Murphy’s executive order are allowed to be open. These include grocery stores, restaurants for takeout and delivery, pharmacies and other health services, liquor stores, and laundry services. If you’re not sure if your business is allowed, check official state sources. Non-essential businesses can continue only through remote work that properly implements social distancing.
Breaking the quarantine rules can result in a disorderly persons charge. If you’re arrested and later convicted, you might face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you respond to the accusation poorly, you may face additional charges. You could be charged with resisting arrest, for example. As previously mentioned, if you cough or spit on the arresting officer, you could be charged with making terroristic threats or assault.
That’s why it’s so important to remember to stay calm if you’re approached by a law enforcement officer. You always have the right to remain silent and to contact a lawyer. When you do, your attorney will advise you to treat any police officers with respect but to avoid self-incrimination.
Charged with a COVID-19 Related Crime? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
At Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC, we’re on call all day, every day. Whenever you need a qualified, experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, we’re available. The sooner your lawyer begins building your defense, the better.
Our firm also offers a unique advantage to all of our clients – our attorneys are former prosecutors. We know how prosecutors think because we used to be them, so we can more effectively defend you from their accusations.
Don’t wait to get the help you need. Our consultations are free, so contact us right now to schedule one today.