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Can Police in Texas Arrest Me for Refusing a Coronavirus Quarantine?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Allen felony defense attorney

With several Texas cities closing bars and restaurants, more than 500 cases of the virus in the state at the time of this writing, and at least seven deaths reported, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Texas hard. In response, the Texas National Guard will be activated to assist with the outbreak if necessary. However, did you know that, depending on the laws enforced during a pandemic like this, you can be arrested if you refuse to quarantine or isolate when you are suspected of being infected? It is true, and in those cases, you will need a strong criminal defense strategy. Consider the below facts—and stay safe.

Texas Health and Safety Codes

In Texas, there are various health and safety codes that dictate how local governments and citizens must deal with an outbreak like coronavirus. For the most part, the rules are broad to allow for an open interpretation depending on the situation. Here are some of those Texas health codes:

  • Statewide Authorities—Under Texas state law, the executive commissioner is allowed to declare quarantine zones and enforce them accordingly. This includes putting someone under quarantine involuntarily.

  • Local Authorities—Home-rule municipalities are permitted to develop, adopt, and enforce rules to limit the spread of a communicable disease.

  • Penalties—If a person in Texas knowingly refuses to abide by the rules, guidelines, or instructions recommended by the Texas government or the health authorities set forth during times of quarantine, that person may face a third-degree felony.

What to Do When Dealing With Charges Resulting From the Coronavirus

While arrests and charges resulting from negligence in following health and safety guidelines during a virus outbreak are uncommon throughout the nation, they are still possible. As the country tries to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases, the likelihood of health and safety codes being stringently enforced increases. With this in mind, consider the following tips if you are arrested:

  • Even if you do not believe you have the virus, you must still cooperate. Allow the police to quarantine you for everyone’s safety. No one wants there to be legal ramifications during a crisis like this. If you are cooperative, your charges might be reduced or eliminated under the circumstances. If you agree to be quarantined and are found to be disease-free, then you have an argument against any criminal penalties.

  • Contact a criminal defense attorney, especially if you feel the charges are not justified. In these chaotic times, it is easy for the police to mishandle these cases, since they are so rare and new. Police are also learning how to handle laws like this, since they are so infrequently enforced.

  • Be proactive and preempt the possibility of being faced with charges like this. If you follow the codes defined by the local government and Texas authorities, not only will you prevent yourself from being charged, but you will also stay safe and healthy. This will go a long way in avoiding what could be a worse fate—contraction of the coronavirus itself.

Contact a McKinney Criminal Defense Lawyer

In these tumultuous times, it is difficult to think about anything other than the threat of coronavirus and its implications on your health and the economy. You do not need to add to these challenges by being criminally penalized for health code infractions. During this global crisis, the Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. will make sure legal problems are not added to all the other problems you may already be facing. If you are charged with a violation related to the outbreak, call a diligent Collin County felony defense attorney at 469-333-3333 for a free consultation. 

Sources:

https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-quarantine-and-isolation-statutes.aspx

https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/specificlawsregulations.html

https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/aboutlawsregulationsquarantineisolation.html

https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/22/coronavirus-updates-texas-greg-abbott-gives-update-texas-has-355-cases/

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