Hiring a Criminal Attorney to Defend You Against Violation of the “Safer At Home Order”
When Los Angeles County issued the “Safer at Home” requiring all non-essential businesses to shut down due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, it was a huge economic blow to many small businesses deemed non-essential. This included small businesses in Los Angeles like barbershops, smoke shops, nail salons and other non-essential businesses. The purpose of the ordered shut down was clearly a good one — to enforce social distancing to slow the spread of Covid-19.
However, many small businesses in Los Angeles County did not comply with the shutdown order. While they should have, the harsh economic reality for some of these business owners was that if they closed they could not survive. It was a very difficult and stressful time. While the government promised to bail out small businesses with loans through the Small Business Administration, the loan program was largely a disaster itself, sometimes allocating large sums of money to large businesses like Shake Shack while leaving small businesses in the dust.
So, what should you do if you own a small business and received a letter from the City of Los Angeles notifying you that criminal charges have been filed against you for operating after the shutdown order? The first thing you should do is hire a criminal defense attorney that regularly works in the courthouse where the case against you has been filed.
The TRUTH IS that Covid-19 related criminal charges are new types of cases that we have never seen before. Unlike typical cases such as DUI, we do not have a track record of how seriously and harshly prosecutors intend to punish alleged violations. Accordingly, it is critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney with a personal relationship with the prosecutors handling these cases. These types of relationships and connections can make a huge difference in how the case turns out.
There may be some very strong defenses to alleged violations of the Safer at Home Order. First, it must be clear that the business was not essential. There is certainly some grey area in this analysis since some businesses may provide both essential and non-essential services. For example, a smoke shop may sell both non-essential items like pipes, but essential items like food and beverages.
Second, some businesses may have received actual, in-person warnings from law enforcement or city officials to shut down, WHILE OTHERS did not. This could create problems for prosecutors since it would be unfair to treat businesses with actual knowledge of the shut down requirement the same as businesses that were simply presumed to know that they were required to close their doors.
The bottom line is we need to wait and see how these citations will play out. On one hand, prosecutors may take these violations extremely seriously since they are Covid-19 related and lives could have been risked by operating after the ordered shutdown. On the other hand, prosecutors could show some leniency, knowing that businesses may have stayed open ONLY because people’s economic livelihood depended on it. Either way, hiring an experienced criminal attorney highly familiar with the courthouse where your case is filed is the first essential step to defending you against these charges. If you or a loved one – or your business – is facing criminal charges for violating the “Safer At Home Order” contact our firm today at (310) 246-9550 for a free consultation.
Our team of criminal defense attorneys has over 90 years of combined experience defending a wide variety of criminal charges in courthouses throughout Los Angeles County, including: Airport (LAX), Stanley Mosk (Downtown LA), San Fernando, Santa Clarita, Lancaster, Palmdale and others.