Sign on county highway with stay-at-home order, that says "Stay Home, Stop the Spread"

What Happens if You Violate a NC State or County “Stay-at-Home” Order?

By Joel Hancock

With the spreading of COVID-19, many states, including North Carolina, have issued various orders in an attempt to minimize the transmission of the virus. As of 5:00 on March 30, 2020, all individuals in the state of North Carolina became subject to Executive Order No. 121, also known as a “stay-at-home” order previously issued by Governor Roy Cooper. 

The Order tells individuals who are currently located in North Carolina that they must stay at home, whether their place of residence or current abode and should “only travel for Essential Activities,” including:

  • Activities pertaining to health and safety
  • Outdoor exercise
  • Shopping for necessary supplies (e.g. food)
  • Caring for others
  • Volunteering

If someone fails to abide by the Executive Order, they could be charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Although this criminal charge generally results in a non-jail sentence (with usually just fines and/or probation), those who have a prior criminal history may face 60 days in jail. 

In addition to a state “stay-at-home” order, there can also be more restrictive orders of the same kind that are issued by local counties and governments. Those who violate local “stay-at-home” orders may also be found guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

Law enforcement can enforce these “stay-at-home” orders by issuing warnings, citations, or even arrests. Most individuals who violate a “stay-at-home” order will likely receive a warning. However, it is important to note that reasonable suspicion of criminal activity gives an officer the legal right to conduct an investigatory stop. In other words, if a police officer believes that an individual is violating a “stay-at-home” order, he or she may stop the individual to issue a warning during which time he or she could find evidence of a more severe crime. 

Joel Hancock at Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Arrested for Violating a “Stay-at-Home” Order

If you have been arrested or ticketed for allegedly violating a “stay-at-home” order, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.