Criminal Charges Pending Against Citizens for Violating the Executive Order (aka Quarantine)

Criminal Charges Pending Against Those Who Break Quarantine

As most everyone knows by now, Governor Murphy issued two (2) executive orders limiting when New Jersey residents should leave their houses.  Importantly, large gatherings of more than fifty (50) people have been banned.  Those violating this gathering restriction are exposed to being criminally prosecuted.

We are starting to see the consequences for those who disregard the Orders. Residents from Lakewood New Jersey have been criminally charged three (3) times for violating this ban on large gatherings.  On March 18, 2020, the Lakewood police force dispersed two (2) weddings. Similarly, another wedding was dispersed on March 25, 2020.

At the time of the dispersal, the organizers of all three (3) events were criminally charged with Maintaining a Public Nuisance, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-12.  It appears the criminal charges have been limited to the organizers of the gatherings.

In order to be convicted under subsection “a” of this this statute, an individual “By conduct either unlawful in itself or unreasonable under all the circumstances, he knowingly or recklessly creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or health of a considerable number of persons.”  Maintaining a Public Nuisance is a Disorderly Persons Offense, punishable by up to six (6) months county jail.

The complaints were issued on Summons, which means those charged were not taken into custody. They will be required to appear in Municipal Court to face prosecution. With municipal Courts being closed, there remains uncertainty as to when the matters will be heard.

If you or a loved one has questions about criminal offenses, please contact the attorneys at Rosenberg | Perry & Associates.