Tennessee DA: Anyone not following stay-at-home orders can face jail time

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SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WREG) — The top prosecutor in one Tennessee county has a message: stay home or you’ll end up in jail.

Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said violating state and local orders will get people jail time and a fine as outlined by state law.

One person already has pending charges for violating the state and local executive order to stay home.

"Stay at home. Stop the spread. Follow the law," Weirich said.

It's a clear message, but not everyone is following it during the coronavirus pandemic.

"What we want people to understand is that when the governor of the state issues an executive order, when both of our mayors issue orders pleading with everyone to stay home, it’s serious business," Weirich said.

It's so serious that not doing so can get you arrested for a class A misdemeanor.

"If people are not going to listen, if people are going to put themselves at risk, other people at risk, law enforcement at risk, then the only answer we have is to follow the law and prosecute these offenders," Weirich said. "A class A misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor there is."

This isn’t referring to people who have to leave their home because they’re an essential worker or for those who travel to an essential business like a grocery store.

"What can land you behind bars is not following the order of the governor, and the order of the governor is to stay home unless you are part of an essential service," Weirich said.

Instead, it’s for those choosing to host or attend social gatherings and those not abiding by the social distancing guidelines.

Weirich said this is not only a legal matter but a matter of life and death.

"We don’t want to put other citizens at risk," Weirich said. "We don’t want to put law enforcement at risk. We want to cut down on as much contamination and as much death as we possibly can.”

Anyone ignoring the orders will have to face the charges.

"They will have to account for the charge, and this office is going to treat these very seriously," Weirich said.

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