On June 23, John Wiesman, the Washington Secretary of Health, announced a statewide mandate that requires individuals to wear face masks or cloth face coverings while in public. The Washington face mask requirement takes effect on Friday, June 26. The goal of the order is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the State of Washington.

The order requires everyone in public to wear a face-covering while going into public spaces. Public places include stores, offices, and restaurants. It also applies outdoors when you cannot stay at least 6 feet apart from others. The order defines a face covering to mean a cloth face covering that covers the nose and mouth. A scarf, bandana, or cloth face mask may satisfy the requirement

Will a violation of the face mask requirement result in a civil penalty or a criminal offense? What is the difference between the two?

A violation of the face mask requirement could result in a criminal citation. The violation will be a criminal misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. A conviction for the offense will become part of your criminal record and remain on your record unless you get it vacated.

Being charged with a crime can be costly, stressful, and time-consuming. You will be required to take time off of work and go to court. Unlike a civil penalty, you cannot simply pay a fine to resolve the matter. You may be required to attend multiple court appearances and be ordered by a judge to serve jail time or complete community service upon a conviction.

What should I do if I am accused of violating the mandate?

You should always seek an experienced attorney’s assistance when being charged with a criminal offense. There are multiple exceptions to the face mask requirement, such as when you are in your home with members of your household, or if you have a qualifying medical exemption.

Here at Philbrook Law Office, attorneys Matthew Philbrook and Adin Johnson have years of criminal defense experience. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you are facing a criminal offense charge. Call our office at 360-695-3309 to schedule a free consultation.