Criminal Penalties for Breaking Quarantine

In late March, President Trump publicly floated the idea of quarantining New York, as well as parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. While the quarantine was ultimately not implemented, with the White House instead issuing a travel advisory for those three states, it made some people fear what might happen if one or more states were, in fact, quarantined. For example, what happens to people who break an officially imposed quarantine?

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a highly infectious disease that has become a worldwide pandemic, infecting hundreds of thousands of people and killing thousands. It is known for causing flu-like symptoms, but is significantly more lethal, with many victims needing to be hospitalized for a high fever or labored breathing. In order to prevent the spread of the disease, many countries have been implementing extreme measures, including curfews and quarantines for entire regions.

A quarantine, once implemented, imposes criminal penalties on anyone who travels outside of the quarantine area without permission. The federal quarantine statute, 42 U.S.C. §264-272, imposes a maximum penalty of $1,000 or one year in prison for violating a quarantine. Each state also has its own quarantine laws as well; for example, N.Y. Public Health Law § 2122 considers violation of a quarantine or isolation order a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. While not the most serious of punishments, it is generally advisable to comply with a quarantine rather than risk state or federal incarceration.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.

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