Violating A Public Health Order In Ohio

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

There have been multiple orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and violating any of these orders can lead to criminal charges:

  • March 14, 2020: ODH order prohibits ‘mass gatherings’ (over 100 people)
  • 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
  • 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: OHD order requires people to stay at home unless engaged in essential work or activity
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 ChargesAccording 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.

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