COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a virus that is spreading quickly throughout the globe and even in Broward County, Florida. On March 26, 2020 Broward County issued a Shelter In Place Order which officials have named “Safer at Home Policy”. Essentially this means that all non essential workers must remain in their homes with few exceptions. County officials permit travel outside of your home to conduct essential activities to sustain life. Broward County permits travel for grocery shopping, work (if essential business), medical visits, prescription pickups and outdoor exercise so long as you observe social distancing requirements. All people must adhere to measures advised by the CDC for social distancing at all other times as well.
Can I be arrested for being outside during the Shelter In Place Order?
The Sheriff of Broward County, Gregory Tony has made public statements that folks found outside for non essential activities will be given a warning. Depending on how often these warnings are to be given, local police have indicated that arrests can and will be made for those violating shelter in place orders. These orders are being given to protect the population from the spread of this dangerous virus. We strongly recommend that everyone follow the shelter in place orders and all recommendations from the federal, state and local governments for social distancing.
What to do if I am arrested during COVID-19 crisis?
If you are arrested for any crime during this crisis, the procedure is relatively similar. Police will likely do what they can to avoid having to take you to jail for most misdemeanor offenses. Felony cases, as always, require a custodial arrest and a reasonable bond. There is little to no information being released regarding COVID-19 in the Broward County jail system at this time. As with other states, I am sure that COVID-19 has already been introduced into the jails and we will start getting reports about the number of cases soon. If you have been arrested and bonded out from jail in the past 2 weeks, it is recommended that you self quarantine for at least 15 days to prevent the spread of the virus to family, roommates, friends or anyone else who you could come in contact with.
As always, contact an attorney if you have been arrested for any crime in Broward County.
What will happen with my pending court case during COVID-19 crisis?
At the present, all court hearings are cancelled and the courthouse is closed to public visitors. All of my pending cases in Broward County have been cancelled and given future dates. This means that nothing will be happening with your case apart from ordinary discovery exchanges and emails with prosecutors regarding plea offers and other standard communications. It is unclear when the courts will be reopened and when normal activities will resume. Until that time, it is recommended that you follow the Shelter in Place Order entered on March 26, 2020 and keep yourself isolated from others. The longer you are home and safe, the less risk of being stopped by police and running into additional problems.
The office of Grant Schwarz, Criminal Defense Attorney is open and taking calls every day. We have invested time and resources to remain open and operational during this crisis and to help our clients and answer questions from new potential clients every day. Please call us with any questions regarding your pending case or a new arrest during the COVID-19 crisis. We are here to help you.