NJ attorney general: Comply with emergency orders or face charges
Contrary to rumors, New Jersey residents do not have a curfew. You aren’t being forced to stay in your home 24 hours a day, and you won’t get arrested if you are out jogging, picking up carry-out food, or driving to the grocery store. But you are supposed to stay inside whenever possible, and use common sense when you go outside for exercise or necessities by following social distancing guidelines.
The governor has the last word on these regulations for the entire state. Municipalities and counties in the state can’t enact stricter rules of their own, except when it comes to beaches, boardwalks, and local parks.
“Don’t be a knucklehead,” Murphy said a few times this week of the guidelines when citing problems caused by a handful of residents in the state. People who are getting in trouble are doing stupid things like provoking other residents or the police. That said, everyone should do their part to stay home as much as possible and heed the call to stay at least six feet away from other people in public places. Readers have reported seeing way too many people in the community not taking social distancing seriously.
On Friday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal urged the public and business owners to comply with the governor’s emergency orders— not only to keep themselves and others healthy, but also to avoid creating more work and risks for law enforcement officers.
Grewal warned that residents who fail to comply will be held accountable. He cited numerous cases where charges have been filed for violations of the orders or other offenses related to the coronavirus.
“Our police officers are going above and beyond the call of duty during this health crisis. Unfortunately, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the orders put in place to protect us all— or what is more egregious, people falsely using the coronavirus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” Grewal said. “Staying home and maintaining social distance is not just good advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do what it takes to keep our residents and police officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file criminal charges against those who violate the emergency orders.”
Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said it is imperative that businesses and residents follow the protocols set forth in the executive order.
“Once again, New Jersey citizens are facing a crisis with unwavering resolve, fortitude and perseverance, because the vast majority of our residents and businesses are complying with Governor Murphy’s executive order, which must be strictly adhered to in order to prevent community spread of COVID-19,” Callahan said.
Following are some of the recent cases where police had to take action:
- On March 12, a 28-year-old woman was charged with false public alarm and motor vehicle offenses after falsely claiming to be infected with the coronavirus during a DWI arrest in Hanover Township.
- On March 16, a woman allegedly spit on officers in Dunellen, claiming to have tested positive for COVID-19. She was charged with throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer and second-degree terroristic threats.
- On March 17, a 23-year-old woman was arrested in Belleville and charged with false public alarm for allegedly calling emergency dispatchers and claiming she had the coronavirus to try to get Essex County College to close. She did not have the virus.
- On March 20, a 43-year-old man was charged with maintaining a nuisance for holding a wedding in Lakewood the previous day, March 19, in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
- On March 20, a 49-year-old man was charged with maintaining a nuisance for holding a wedding in Lakewood in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
- On March 20, a 33-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and endangering for allegedly spitting on a police officer in Gloucester Township and claiming to have the coronavirus.
- On March 20, a 22-year-old woman allegedly coughed directly on an officer during a domestic violence incident in River Edge, saying she had the virus and she hoped he was now infected. She was charged with endangering and throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer.
- On March 21, a 37-year-old man was charged with disorderly conduct for holding a large party in Penns Grove in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
- On March 21, a 52-year-old man was charged in Middlesex County with throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer and second-degree terroristic threats. He claimed to be infected with the coronavirus.
- On March 22, a 34-year-old man was charged in Gloucester Township after he allegedly went out drinking with a friend and crashed his car. He was charged with DWI, reckless driving, and a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
- On March 24, in Waterford, a 25-year-old woman allegedly went to the home of another woman and assaulted her. She was charged with aggravated assault, harassment, and a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
- On March 24, a 50-year-old man was charged with terroristic threats, obstruction, and harassment for allegedly purposely coughing on an employee at the Wegmans store in Manalapan and refusing to cooperate with a police officer.
- On March 24, a 54-year-old man was allegedly told New Jersey state troopers in Sussex County that he had the coronavirus in an attempt to avoid arrest after a motor vehicle stop. He was charged with DWI.
- On March 24 in Lakewood, police charged a 37-year-old man with a disorderly persons offense for holding a wedding at his home in violation of the emergency orders.
- On March 24, the Jersey City Police Department charged multiple individuals who were loitering as a group outside an apartment building. Three juveniles were charged with defiant trespass, failure to disperse, and disorderly persons offenses related to the emergency orders.
- On March 25, a 24-year-old woman from Pitman was charged in a domestic violence incident with leaving her home and allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at her boyfriend’s residence. It did not detonate. She was charged with arson and weapons offenses, as well as a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
- On March 25 in Lakewood, police charged a 48-year-old man with maintaining a nuisance, in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings, for holding a gathering of approximately 25 young men at the school where he is headmaster.
- On March 25, a 51-year-old man was arrested in New Providence on domestic violence charges. He allegedly stated that he was infected with the coronavirus and started to cough at police and medical personnel. He was charged with obstruction and harassment.
- On March 25, in Lakewood, a man was charged with a disorderly persons offense for purposely coughing at a liquor store and claiming he was infected with the coronavirus.
- On March 26, police in Washington Township, Warren County, charged the owner of Rack and Roll Billiards Hall with obstruction of the administration of law for keeping his business open in violation of the emergency order. He was previously warned about opening during the emergency and closed down. He re-opened and had customers inside when police arrived.
- On March 27, Piscataway Police charged four young adults with disorderly persons offenses for violating the emergency orders and criminal mischief for allegedly drag racing and doing donuts in a school parking lot.
- On March 27, in Hazlet, state troopers charged a 30-year-old man with obstruction and hindering apprehension or prosecution for allegedly falsely claiming he had the coronavirus to try to avoid charges after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
- On March 26, Lakewood Police charged a 39-year-old man with a disorderly persons offense for holding a wedding in violation of the emergency order.
- On March 27, police charged a 37-year-old woman with a disorderly persons offense for holding a party in Bridgeton in violation of the order prohibiting large gatherings.
If you are seeing a lack of compliance in your town, please contact your local police department or report violations online at https://covid19.nj.gov/violation