The Coronavirus and the Law: What you need to know about Court! Part II

outbreak-coronavirus-world-1024x506px-300x169In part one of this blog, we discussed recent court changes and what to expect with any upcoming court dates.  In just over a week since Part One was written, there has been numerous changes/updates.

For one, ALL non-essential court dates have been moved until at least May.  this includes jury trial for criminal and civil cases.  Only new arrests and people in custody who can resolve their cases will have court the next several weeks.

Next, while not strictly court related, the Chief Judge in Pinellas signed the following administrative order:

“The Chief Judge has signed the Administrative Order 2020-009 PA/PI-CIR CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC (COVID-19) – NO BOND FOR QUARANTINE/ISOLATION VIOLATION.

1. While the State of Florida remains under a declared public health emergency for
COVID-19, any person who violates any rule adopted under section 381.00315, Fla. Stat., any
isolation or quarantine, or any requirement adopted by the Department of Health in accordance
with a declared public health emergency, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree. When
any person is arrested for a violation of section 381.00315, Fla. Stat., who is “reasonably believed
to be infected” with the coronavirus or who is “reasonably believed to have been exposed” that
violation is presumed to involve a danger to the public health.

2. Due to the danger to the public health for such a violation, the bond shall initially be set at
“no bond.” See Varholy v. Sweat, 15 So. 2d 267 (Fla. 1943) stating “To grant release on bail to
persons isolated and detained on a quarantine order because they have a contagious disease which
makes them dangerous to others, or to the public in general, would render quarantine laws and
regulations nugatory and of no avail.” This provision does not preclude the judge presiding at first
appearance hearings from modifying the “no bond” status if appropriate. This provision also does
not preclude the assigned judge or duty judge from addressing other emergency relief, if the
circumstances warrant it.

3. The arresting officer in such cases shall notify the jail that the arrested person is or may be
infected before bringing such person into any jail facility. The booking staff shall engage in
appropriate measures for receiving and holding such person in order to avoid the potential
transmission of the disease within the facility.
This Administrative Order supplements Administrative Order Nos. 2018-019 and
2018-020. All provisions of both Administrative Order 2018-019 and Administrative Order
2018-020 remain in full force and effect except where inconsistent with this Administrative Order”.

To sum up: if you are suspected of having the coronavirus and violate ordered isolation or if you have been ordered into quarantine and do not follow said order, you can be punished by up to 60 days in county jail.  Furthermore, you will NOT be entitled to a bond hearing, bail/release/ROR due to your earlier actions of ignoring the quarantine order.

What does this mean?  Simply if you have been ordered to isolate/quarantine yourself and you ignore said order, you risk sitting in jail until this pandemic is over!  Be careful, be safe and don’t do anything stupid that puts your liberty at risk!

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