More Arrests & Jail Time for “COVID-19 Crimes” Here in Maryland, But Are They Constitutional
In late September, a Maryland man was convicted and sentenced to prison time for violating Governor Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. According to reports, the defendant held two parties that had at least 50 people in attendance while, at the time, Gov. Hogan’s emergency order prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people. According to the state attorney, while he agreed to shut down the party the first time the police showed up, he refused to do so the second time (only several days later), and is now being charged with Failure to Comply with an Emergency Order as a result. The charges carry one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, as well as three years’ probation after release.
Governor Hogan‘s emergency order for Maryland currently allows gatherings of up to 50 people. Still, just between late March and April, Maryland State Police conducted almost 30,000 compliance checks and arrested and charged 80 people, and, with almost 4,000 Marylanders having died and more than 120,000 being infected to date, the state is still taking COVID-19 very seriously. Police have indicated that while they will not do random checks to see if citizens are in compliance, if they happen to stop someone for a DUI or traffic violation, for example, they will also inquire if someone is in compliance with the order.
Legal Procedure for Businesses Found Violating the Law
Still, the most common occupancy type with violations has typically been businesses, followed by private residences, open public spaces, and houses of worship. Earlier in September, a number of Maryland counties were approved for stage three, which involves the gradual reopening of indoor theaters and outdoor venues at 50 percent and religious and retail facilities at 50 to 75 percent. Still, if a business is found violating these provisions and a complaint is lodged against them, police first have to make contact with the owner and allow them to voluntarily comply. If this does not work, police then work with the local state attorney to issue a criminal summons or warrant, which includes an injunction to shut down the business.
Legal Challenges: Arguing That the Executive Orders Violate Our Constitutional Rights
However, Gov. Hogan, the state Health Secretary, the State Police Superintendent, and Deputy Health Secretary have also been sued by several Maryland lawmakers, businesses, and pastors over the executive orders, arguing that they infringe upon free speech rights and the ability for these individuals to leave their homes and speak at events on matters of importance to the public, as well as placing undue interference with the national economy by prohibiting interstate commerce and preventing a number of businesses from operating, which has resulted in a significant deprivation and loss of property. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that this not only violates the 5th Amendment, but the Maryland Declaration of Rights and the Commerce Clause.
If You Are Facing Criminal Charges in Maryland, Contact Experienced Defense Representation
If you have been charged with any crime in Maryland, whether that is a DUI, traffic violation, or COVID-19 crime, you need to obtain representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our La Plata & Waldorf criminal defense attorneys are committed to our Maryland clients. Before you make any statements to the police, contact The Law Office of Hammad S. Matin, P.A .today to find out how we can ensure that your rights are protected.