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Criminal Defense Blog

The Law Behind Stay At Home Orders – What Does it Mean For Me?

Many people are asking, “am I really required to stay at home?” The short answer is, yes. There are laws and regulations that have been codified which give county commissions and county health center boards the authority to promulgate rules, ordinances, orders, and regulations specifically to prevent the entrance and spread of infectious diseases into communities. Missouri Revised Statutes Section 192.300 as well as other regulations in the Code of State Regulations spell this out. Violation of this emergency ordinance is the equivalent of a Class B Misdemeanor, where the range of punishment is up to a $1000 fine or up to 6 months in jail.
The orders in Greene and surrounding counties include a strict “stay at home order”, which means that you could be cited and prosecuted for a violation. Unless you are working for an “essential business” or are using one of them to provide essential care for you or a loved one, you are legally required to stay at home.
A partial list of essential businesses defined in the order include:
• Health care (doctors, dentists, nurses, hospitals, pharmacies, medical research facilities,
blood donation services, labs, etc);
• Food and drink production and distribution (including grocery stores, markets,
restaurants that offer food for carryout, liquor stores);
• Sanitation (including laundromats, dry cleaners, household and business cleaning
services and supply stores);
• Transportation (including railroads, airports, public transit, taxis and other private
transportation providers);
• Auto repair and service, including gas stations and auto supply stores;
• Financial Services (including banks, insurance providers, and professional services required to comply with legal and regulatory requirements);
• Lawn and landscaping services);
• Manufacturing and distribution of supplies and materials for essential businesses (including trucking and other supply chain support functions);
• Maintenance and construction of infrastructure and households;
• Building supply stores
• Childcare;
• Essential Government Operations;
• Residential care facilities
• Hotels and motels;
• Media and Communications Providers;
• Mailing, Shipping, and Delivery services; and
• Essential Government business (which includes attorneys and courts).
The City Police and County Sheriff’s Departments are unlikely to strictly enforce this emergency ordinance with criminal penalties, but it is within their and local prosecutors’ discretion. Obviously if cited, you would have the opportunity to fight the charge and to be heard to establish that your activity falls into one of the delineated exceptions. Generally if you are stopped for a violation of the order a citation will not be given, but instead a warning is expected as we all learn the new societal norms for the next 30 days. The point is to keep everyone safe, to flatten the curve of this dreaded disease, and keeping people at home for now is the only way to do that according to the experts. Be safe out there!