Is It Against the Law to Violate a Quarantine Order in California?
Health and Safety Code 120275:
This statute makes it a crime to violate a quarantine order placed due to a communicable disease or infection. This law directly applies to the current COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders passed by many leaders of the states.
Any person who, after notice, violates, or who, upon the demand of any health officer refuses or neglects to conform to, any rule, order, or regulation prescribed by the department respecting a quarantine of disinfection of persons, animals, thing, or places, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
What Are the Penalties for Violating a Quarantine Order?
Violating HS 120275 is a misdemeanor as opposed to an infraction or felony.
May result in:
- Fine up to $1000
- Up to a 6-month sentence in county jail or
- Misdemeanor probation granted by a judge.
In order to be convicted for violating this health and safety code, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant had notice of an order or rule regarding the quarantine from an infectious disease and that they wilfully disregarded the order. The purpose of quarantine is to achieve a certain level of disinfection. Under 120275, “disinfection” can include people, animals, things, or places.
Is There Defense Against a Violation of Quarantine?
Anytime an order of quarantine is placed in effect, people’s constitutional rights are always brought into question. Depending on the reason for violating a quarantine, the misdemeanor charge could violate a number of constitutional rights.
- Violation of your to freely associate.
- Violation of your right to exercise religion
- Violation of your right to travel across states
Another possible defense would be the “necessity” defense. The defendant violated the quarantine due to a necessity like going to the hospital, going to the grocery store, being an essential worker and overall any necessary reason to break the quarantine will give grounds for defense. These circumstances may cause a judge or prosecutor to dismiss charges.
A defense that may work, but is less likely to be successful is the defense of no intent. Where the defendant was not aware or had no prior knowledge about the quarantine order they are accused of violating.
The only time a constitutional rights defense would work, is if the quarantine is due to a communicable disease. Only then is it not a violation of constitutional rights because it is an order that seeks to protect citizens.
Other Information Regarding HS 120275
- Convictions under HS 120275 may be expunged given that the defendant has paid their fines, served their sentence, or have been placed on probation.
- Convictions under HS 120275 does not have negative consequences against immigration, although sometimes in California, convictions result in deportation or denial of future entry to the U.S.
- Convictions under HS 120275 does affect the future gun rights of the defendant.
Possible Related Charges
In California, normally a person wouldn’t be arrested for violating HS 120275 only, they would most likely also be violating:
- HS 120290 intentional exposure to infectious disease
- Penal Code 408 unlawful assembly, and
- Penal Code 415 disturbing the peace; which can include loud music, fighting, or loud swearing.
Are you in need of legal assistance for violating HS 120275? Get in touch with KAASS Law by calling us at (310) 943-1173 or by using the contact form below!