Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced Friday that her office has no intentions of helping enforce a limited curfew in much of California to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The announcement tracks with what many police chiefs and sheriffs in the Central Valley and throughout the state have said about the 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew that takes effect Saturday in much of the state.
“The Order itself lacks direction regarding methods, specific statutes, and enforcement criteria, as to whether the Governor intends to try to hold violators of this Order accountable in criminal courts,” according to a statement from Smittcamp. “He cites no authority to allow for elected District Attorneys to enforce this Order, should we be presented with a request for prosecution of a violation.”
Smittcamp said her office will not initiate criminal charges for any felony or misdemeanor violation of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, “should any exist in the law.” She went on further to say if the state creates any “strike forces” with state resources to target people disregarding the order, “those cases will be referred to Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of the State of California for review and prosecution.”
Gov. Newsom in August sent enforcement teams to work in conjunction with Fresno County health officials with a focus on Alcoholic Beverage Control and Cal/OSHA requirements for businesses operating in defiance of lockdown orders.
What officials are calling a limited stay-at-home order requires people who are not on essential errands to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Saturday. The order will last until Dec. 21 but could be extended if disease trends don’t improve.
The curfew covers 94% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. It’s in place in 41 of the state’s 58 counties that have the most significant increases in virus cases and face the most severe restrictions under California’s four-tier system for reopening the economy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.