It is unlikely that Indiana’s Stay At Home order will lead to martial law. The shelter in place orders issued throughout the country are intended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Even though we may be under a State of Emergency, governments are still able to maintain control.

What is Martial Law?

Martial law replaces civil government by military rule during an emergency or crisis. Martial law has rarely been used in the United States. Hawaii was under martial law after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and President Abraham Lincoln used martial law during the Civil War.

As long as civil law exists, martial law cannot exist. Our civil forms of government are very strong and secure. Therefore, the chance of martial law in Indiana because of COVID-19 is very low.

Why Do People Think COVID-19 Is Going to Lead to Martial Law in Indiana?

Rumors and conspiracy theories are circulating claiming that the federalization of various states’ National Guard units is leading to martial law. However, mobilizing the National Guard under Title 32 is not about control. It is about funding.

When the President of the United States mobilizes the National Guard of a state under Title 32, the federal government becomes responsible for the payment of costs related to the assignment. The governors of the states remain in control of the activities of the National Guard. Therefore, the National Guard units are not under the control of the federal government.

Because of the rumors of martial law, the Administration has addressed the matter directly. In a press briefing by Secretary Esper related to the COVID-19 response, Secretary Esper stated very clearly that the mobilization of the National Guard is not a move toward martial law.

What Does Indiana’s Stay At Home Order Cover?

Because there has not been a federal shelter in place order or structured guidance related to how states should handle the spread of COVID-19, governors have issued state-specific Stay At Home orders. The orders vary by state.

Most states ordered schools to close. Many states have ordered certain businesses to close while other states have initiated complete shutdowns.

Indiana’s Stay At Home order is mandatory. The original order was issued on March 23, 2020. An updated order extended the original order for an additional two weeks until April 20, 2020.

Additional provisions in the updated order include:

  • Limiting the number of customers in the business to comply with social distancing.
  • Limit hours of operation.
  • Consider adding designated hours of operation for vulnerable and elderly customers.
  • Comply with sanitation, social distancing, and mitigation measures to protect the public and employees.

Any businesses that remain open that do not provide essential services or goods are limited to providing products through delivery or curbside pickup. These businesses must also comply with sanitation, social distancing, and mitigation measures.

The order requires Indiana residents to stay at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The updated order includes enforcement guidelines for businesses that violate the provisions of the Executive Order.

What are the Penalties For Violating the Indiana Stay at Home Order?

Businesses that do not follow the order receive a verbal warning for the first violation. If the company continues to operate, the company can be ordered to close. Ultimately, a business that violates Indiana’s Stay At Home order could lose its permits and licenses.

Criminal charges could also be filed for violating an Executive Order. The charge for a violation of the Executive Order is a Class B misdemeanor. The party could be fined up to $1,000 and incarcerated up to 180 days.

What Should I Do if I am Arrested for Violating Indiana’s Stay at Home Order?

Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you are contacted regarding a violation of an Executive Order. Guilty verdicts could result in jail time in addition to a fine. Also, your business could face penalties from licensing boards and other government agencies.

The police continue to investigate other crimes during the coronavirus shut down. Domestic violence cases, drug offenses, weapons charges, sex crimes, and other offenses could result in an arrest and incarceration.

Avoiding incarceration during the COVID-19 outbreak can be risky. If you suspect you could be the target of a police investigation or you are arrested, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss your options for avoiding jail.

Until you talk to a lawyer, exercise your right to remain silent. Be polite and respectful, but decline to answer any questions or provide a statement until after you meet with your attorney.