New Jersey Police Arresting Many for Violating at Home Order, But Is It All Legal?
Following New Jersey Governor Murphy’s stay at home order (which followed an initial executive order banning gatherings of more than 50 people) dictating that all social gatherings are banned in the state and all residents are to stay at home until further notice, police have been arresting individuals who have violated the order, including a homeowner who recently hosted a wedding at his own home, charging him with maintaining a public nuisance. Indeed, there have been multiple reports of police arresting individuals holding open gatherings and weddings here in New Jersey, in addition to ticketing more than a dozen property owners for violating the governor’s orders. Others were charged with different offenses for the same conduct, such as disorderly persons offenses (a misdemeanor).
Still, the order does not include a specific penalty for violations, which could explain why police officers appear to have significant discretion as to what charges they are bringing every time they make an arrest, and why no two individuals or parties arrested under the new order appear to be charged with the same crime.
Requirements for Appearing in Public
In addition, the order dictates that, in public, individuals must stay at least six feet apart from each other “when possible,” with the exception of caretakers, household members, immediate family, and romantic partners, and provides for several exceptions to the requirement that residents must stay at home at all times, including people needing to:
- engage in outdoor activities;
- obtain essential goods or services;
- report to work;
- seek medical attention; and/or
- visit close friends or family.
Which Businesses Can Legally Remain Open?
Similarly, all “non-essential” businesses must be closed to the public, with the exception of the following, which have been deemed to be “essential”:
- “Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities”;
- Banks and other financial institutions;
- Bicycle shops (only to provide service and repair);
- Car dealerships (only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics);
- Convenience stores;
- Farming equipment stores;
- Gas stations;
- Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including “retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store”;
- Hardware and home improvement stores;
- Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
- Liquor stores;
- Livestock feed stores;
- Mail and delivery stores;
- Medical supply stores;
- Mobile phone retail and repair shops;
- Nurseries and garden centers;
- Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
- Pet stores;
- Printing and office supply shops; and
- “Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years.”
The order also dictates that all businesses must accommodate their workforce where it is possible for telework.
If You or A Loved One Is Facing Charges, Contact A New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
If you are being charged with any offense in conjunction with the coronavirus and/or an executive order, contact New York criminal defense attorney Phillip J. Murphy right away. It is crucial that these charges and the facts and circumstances of each case be closely examined in order to ensure that your rights have not been violated, especially during this murky time, when a significant amount of emergency work is being pushed through by our governments without necessarily taking proper caution for constitutional rights.