How mask violations could and could not be prosecuted

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- Could you face criminal charges for failing to wear a mask?

The short answer is yes.

The process of being charged and convicted for failing to wear a mask isn’t so easy, however.

Local lawyers say they don’t believe the charges would make it past the district attorneys office.

“It’s up to the district attorney’s office or in the state level the attorney general to decide if they’d like to prosecute those crimes. So that’s not up to the governor, it’s not up to the legislature, it’s up to the local law enforcement,” Criminal Defense Lawyer James Kirk Piccione said.

The governor does have the right to place a state-wide mandate in emergency situations.

However, he doesn’t have the authority to create criminal penalties or enforce them. It’s up to the local law officials to enforce his orders.

So without local law enforcement agencies enforcing the mandate- it’s almost as if it doesn’t even exist.

As of July 8, Mayor-President Josh said, “If I’m going to infringe on liberty. It must be justified, and I’m not at that point.”

Related: Should Lafayette residents be forced to wear face masks? Council says yes, mayor-president says no

On Monday, Guillory’s office released a statement recognizing the statewide mask mandate. You can read the full statement below:

Lafayette Consolidated Government recognizes that the Governor has issued a statewide mask mandate for “individuals when inside a commercial establishment or any other building or space open to the public, whether indoor or outdoor”. Lafayette Police and Fire Departments are continuing compliance checks on local businesses and issuing warnings to those not in compliance. The departments will continue to ensure masks are worn by employers and employees, and will now ensure that businesses are requiring patrons wear masks as well.

If a business is reported or found in violation for a second time, the business is referred to the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Louisiana Department of Health and could be issued a citation by LPD. Businesses who still remain non-compliant will be subject to additional enforcement steps to include shutting off power and whatever other measures are necessary to ensure compliance.

While businesses will be subject to penalties if masks are not worn, we ask the public for both patience and cooperation during this health emergency. Complying with state and local orders during this trying time will ensure that our fire and law enforcement officials are able to continue focusing on the health and welfare of our citizens. All citizens should wear masks where required, maintain social distancing when possible, wash your hands, and continue to do your part to help us get through this emergency.

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