Violating A Public Health Order In Columbus And Central Ohio
In response to the threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the State of Ohio issued a series of increasingly restrictive public health orders. Those orders closed schools, limited public gatherings exceeding a certain size, prohibited dining in at restaurants, closed non-essential business and ultimately ordered all Ohioans to stay at home unless absolutely necessary to leave (‘shelter in place’). While the goals of these orders are noble, it is not always easy to comply with the quickly changing and somewhat vague laws. Failure to comply with the executive orders can result in criminal charges. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to hire an attorney who can assist you with charges stemming from the violation of a public health order.
Attorneys For Charges Of Violating A Public Health Order
The lawyers in the Dominy Law Firm have experience representing clients charged with a wide variety of criminal offenses in the Columbus and Central Ohio area. Founding attorney Shawn Dominy has been practicing criminal defense law since 1997 and was named one of the ‘Top 50 Attorneys in Columbus’ by SuperLawyers® and Columbus Monthly® magazine. Attorney Bryan Hawkins has been practicing criminal defense since 2011 and was chosen as one of the ‘Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 In Ohio’ by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Both lawyers have the skill and experience to help you resolve your situation favorably.
What Public Health Orders Were Issued In Ohio
Following the Governor's declaration of a State of Emergency on March 14, 2020, there have been multiple orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). Not all of the orders are listed below. Violating any of the orders listed below can lead to criminal charges:
- March 14, 2020: ODH order prohibits ‘mass gatherings’ (over 100 people). This order was superseded by a subsequent order on November 15, 2020.
- March 15, 2020: ODH order limits food and alcohol sales to carry-out and delivery only.
- March 17, 2020: ODH order prohibits ‘mass gatherings’ (over 50 people).
- March 20, 2020: ODH order prohibits business operation at hair salons, day spas, nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, body piercing locations, tanning facilities and massage therapy locations. This order was modified on October 9, 2020.
- March 21, 2020: ODH orders prohibit operation of facilities providing older adult day care services and senior centers, as well as adult day support or vocational habilitation services in a congregate setting.
- March 21, 2020: ODH order requires people to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activity. This order was modified on April 2, 2020 and partially rescinded on May 20, 2020.
- July 23, 2020: ODH order requires people to wear facial coverings in indoor locations other than residences, outdoors when unable to maintain a distance of six feet from other individuals, and when waiting for/riding in/operating public transportation.
- August 13, 2020: ODH order requires facial coverings in child education settings.
- November 13, 2020: ODH order requires facial coverings in retail businesses and imposes requirements on operators of businesses.
- November 15, 2020: ODH order prohibits ‘mass gatherings’, public and private, of greater than ten people.
- November 19, 2020: ODH order requires, for 21 days, all individuals residing in Ohio to stay at a place of residence between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am.
What Constitutes Violating A Public Health Order In Ohio
According to Ohio Revised Code section 3701.352, it is illegal to violate a rule or order issued by the Department of Health or it’s director if that rule was to prevent a threat to the public caused by a pandemic. Each of the orders listed above fall in that category. Therefore, a person who violates any of those orders could be found guilty of this offense.
Penalties For These Charges
According to Ohio Revised Code section 3701.99, Violating a Public Health Order is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense include a jail sentence of up to 90 days, a fine up to $750, and community control (probation) for up to five years.
Defenses To These Charges
Like any criminal offense, there are many possible defenses to the charge of Violating a Public Health Order. In addition to the standard defenses, there are at least three defenses specific to this charge. First, particularly with the order to stay at home, there are many sections which are vague and open to interpretation. Second, there is the issue of whether the conduct was reckless. Third, there is an issue regarding whether the order is a violation of Constitutional rights. There may be additional defenses available, and the applicability of defenses depends on the specific facts of each case.
Representation For Violating A Public Health Order
The Dominy Law Firm will represent you if you are charged with Violating a Public Health Order in Columbus or Central Ohio. We only practice criminal defense, we only represent a limited number of clients, and we zealously represent each one. For more information about our firm, you can review the About Us
page. Our fees are on the high end, but we charge flat fees, so you will know up front the total amount our representation will cost. To discuss representation for your Violating a Public Health Order case, you can schedule a free phone consultation by calling 614-717-1177
or by submitting a CONTACT FORM