GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County Solicitor General’s Office said on Monday that they will prosecute all individuals who violate the stay-at-home order issued by Chairwoman Charlotte Nash and the mayors of all 16 cities within the county last week.
They said anyone who fails to comply and violates the order will be charged with a misdemeanor and could receive a sentence of 60 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine upon conviction.
They added that State Court and Recorder’s Court Judges "maintain and enact all sentences."
A spokesman for the county said code enforcement will be the primary enforcer of the new guidelines, but law enforcement will back them up. Police officers, the county said, will mostly be patrolling the public spaces that are already closed to make sure people obey the orders.
The county's sheriff's office added that law enforcement officers will still have to have probable cause to stop a vehicle or a person, and the citations and arrests would only apply to the most "egregious violations" that posed an immediate threat to public safety.
"Individuals who would endanger the public with a reckless disregard for the health and safety of others will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," the solicitor's office said in a news release.
They said they'll, "continue its efforts to ensure that Gwinnett County residents are safe and secure through aggressive and innovative prosecution.
"We understand that these are uncertain and unprecedented times, but by working together and following the recommendation of our local, state, and federal officials, we can overcome this challenge."
The county added that the goal of the announcement is not to be "heavy-handed" with enforcement, rather to emphasize "informing and educating" the public.
"To that end, there are no plans for County Police to stop vehicles to determine why individuals are traveling; quite honestly, we do not have the manpower to do this, and we believe such actions would be counterproductive to our overall efforts," a spokesperson for the county said. "We visualize that few citations will be issued since our objective is to gain compliance with the provisions of the Order, not to punish individuals and businesses.
"As for arrests for non-compliance with this Order," the county added, "the last thing we need to do at this point is to put more individuals into the Detention Center that would increase risks that COVID-19 would be introduced among detainees and Sheriff’s staff."
As of Tuesday at Noon, the Georgia Department of Public Health said there were 233 positive COVID-19 cases in the county.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to add in clarifications on enforcement of the order from county officials.
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