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West Virginia’s COVID-19 Rule Could Result in a Criminal Charge

As the nation braces for “peak week” of COVID-19, in which devastation in the US could reach its highest point thus far, states are implementing their own measures to protect citizens from coming into contact with the coronavirus. Relative to other US states, West Virginia is enforcing a rather extreme precaution to safeguard its communities.

On March 30th, Governor Jim Justice announced a statewide mandate that requires out-of-state travelers arriving in West Virginia to self-quarantine for two weeks or risk criminal charges, including up to a year in jail on an obstruction charge. This executive order applies to those traveling from New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Connecticut, Italy or China, but excludes essential businesses.

Despite the good intentions behind this state rule, opponents argue that this measure violates the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

About 20% of West Virginia’s population is 65 or older with pre-existing health complications. The state carries the highest percent of at-risk citizens in the nation, which is understandably why Governor Justice made his decision. However, there could be several obstacles in the way of enforcing these travel restrictions.

Potential barriers to enforcement include:

  • Disproportionate amount of law enforcement and state troopers to WV citizens
  • Unwillingness of law enforcement and state troopers to enforce the rule (for reasons including putting themselves at risk)
  • Considerable violation of the fourth amendment
  • Inability to prove if a traveler already quarantined themselves or not
  • Travelers could easily justify their purpose for driving through or arriving in WV

The climate of the nation’s public health emergency calls for increased regulations deemed necessary, but that’s only half the battle. While rules and mandates are helpful to an extent, they must be enforced in a manner that’s legal and effective. Without a substantial quantity and quality of administration at this time, Governor Justice’s orders can only do so much.

That doesn’t mean there is zero chance of an out-of-state visitor being arrested. If you are traveling to West Virginia at this time, you may be charged with:

  • Obstruction of justice
  • Battery
  • Manslaughter
  • Attempted murder
  • Murder

Contact The Wagner Law Firm Today!

With over 22 years of legal experience, Attorney Wagner will work to dismiss your criminal charge. He understands that times are tough already, so there is no plausible reason to endure even more issues. Attorney Wagner has in-depth knowledge of the legal landscape and a countless track record of dismissed cases, so you can feel confident in his ability to craft a strong defense on your behalf.

Your safety is Attorney Wagner’s top priority. Call (304) 461-6000 for a free case review.