WHAT’S THE HARM IN BREAKING ISOLATION RULES?
“Stay Home. Stay Safe!” (Or else…)
It’s the message sent loudest throughout our country by the President and our Governors alike. We support this campaign and its importance to keeping us safe from the risks of spreading the Coronavirus.
We know we are experiencing a time unlike any other and drastic measures must be taken.
We empower our elected officials and legislators to enact and amend laws to serve our citizens during this time of crisis.
In Michigan, our Governor has stated she is not calling for marshall law; yet, she has enacted new laws which now subject citizens to a new brand of criminal offenses: “Quarantine Violations”
Make no mistake about it, law enforcement is acting on the power bestowed to them in this time of crisis. They also have had to adjust how and when they spend their time protecting & serving our communities.
Enforcing These Laws
IT’S A CRIME AND THAT MEANS MORE POLICE POWER.
Michigan quarantine laws went into effect on March 24th, 2020 after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order EO 2020-21 which is also known as the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order.
The reality is, citizens traveling by motor vehicle are subject to stop and seizure more than ever before. In a time where you better have a really good reason to be out driving, designated “essential employees” must carry written verification of necessity for travel and a clean bill of health (or at least be prepared to have their temperature checked at every point of travel.)
In application of how these new isolation-restrictions have played out, those finding themselves on the end of a simple speeding citation are now confronted with needing more proof than just “license, registration, and insurance.”
This is scary! Today was the first day I’m hearing about it as a defense attorney, but I know it’s only the start of things, as I share an important public service announcement in the next section.
Penalties For Quarantine Violations
POLICE ARE NOW ISSUING MISDEMEANOR CITATIONS FOR NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL, ISOLATION VIOLATIONS.
Discretion has never been more ripe for abuse! With no one really watching and our citizenry shuttered to their homes, what happens on the road is mostly going unchecked.
The backlog will be another problem for our courts and prosecutors to address, but in the meantime, the public is severely prejudiced by the court’s selective administration of justice. Consider this, the court is open for police to file tickets against you and warrant requests for your arrest, but you can’t walk into the court to do anything about it unless, or until, the court says you can.
While that may not seem like a big deal for some—and I’m hopeful our prosecutors will exercise appropriate discretion when we’re finally appearing in court on these violations months from now, there is still an immediate prejudice to the public. With times as hard as they are and employment becoming more of a question mark than ever; think about what it would mean to someone trying to get a job post-isolation and having a new blemish to explain on their criminal record.
As much as we appreciate the need to be safe and have all committed to making the necessary sacrifices, traffic stops should not become a mechanism for vetting whether or not a person can prove their travel is essential. Police should not be issuing misdemeanors and our state should have never acquiesced to proscribing a criminal penalty in response to fear.
Avoiding Trouble With Police
Here are the 3 things you MUST KNOW if you’re traveling for essential purposes:
1) You can be stopped for suspicion of non-essential travel outside of your home.
2) Police can now search and seize travelers for suspicion of criminal behavior, being one of “non-essential travel.”
3) Anything the police find as a result of that initial stop is also fair game for arrest and prosecution.
Our world is changing, but our Constitution remains fundamental. If you or someone you know has been stopped by law enforcement, arrested, or cited with a citation for non-essential travel, they should talk with a defense attorney immediately.
If your employer hasn’t provided you with notice of essential services to vouch for your travel, stay home.
If your travel is not truly essential, stay home.
But if you do find yourself caught in this new brand of police encounters, don’t wait another second to start making it right: Call Kelly!