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Six Arrests in Florida That Are a Result of Coronavirus

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2020 | Criminal Charges, Criminal Defense Lawyer |

During this uncertain time, many new temporary laws and orders have been put into place around the country and specifically the state of Florida as it’s one of the hot beds for COVID-19. Stay-at-home orders have been issued in most places throughout the state, and many counties even have curfews. Not following these orders can lead to fines and jail time – and penalties are getting more strict over time.

At this moment, the Supreme Court of Florida has decided that not following isolation or quarantine orders from the Florida Department of Health could lead to arrest with no bond, pending first appearance. A directive was signed saying those who are arrested for violating the orders won’t be given a “Notice to Appear” and won’t be released pursuant to any local bond schedule.

Anyone arrested for violating quarantine orders will appear before the first appearance judge. During this, the presiding judge may accept testimony from the State Health Officer or Department of Health and may make a determination whether setting a bond or bail is appropriate. However, some non-violent criminals may be released as a way to provide some social distancing standards among inmates.

Here are six arrests that have occurred as a result of coronavirus:

· Key West man, Michael McMahon, illegally rents AirBnb after Governor’s order to shut down of all rental properties temporarily. He faces a charge of violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order, which prohibits vacation rentals across the state, and is also accused of violating a city ordinance for operating without the required transient rental permit.

· Florida man ignores Safer-At-Home order and leaves home to go to his ex-girlfriend’s workplace to kidnap her. James Grimes, 28, is charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, domestic battery by strangulation and violation of a disaster preparedness emergency management order.

· Florida man arrested for coughing on law enforcement and stating, “I hope you catch coronavirus and die.” Police were on the scene because 46-year-old Brent Smith threatened to kill his mother with a butter knife. Once police were present he became combative and was arrested on the following charges: assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery on a person 65 or older, tampering with a witness, robbery by sudden snatching, grand theft, assault on a law enforcement officer, corruption by threat against a public official, and violation of probation on an original charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant person.

· Florida woman, Melissa Barton-Schmitt, was arrested after she filmed herself on Facebook Live walking around downtown Orlando saying she thought her coronavirus test would come back positive. She was arrested for violating Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home order.

· Three people in Florida were violating Governor Ron DeSantis’ order of not gathering in large crowds on the beach. Bay County Sheriff’s Office says it arrested three people “on the sandy beaches that were gathered for a house party, spilling out onto the sandy beaches with alcoholic beverages and in large numbers.”

· Florida Pastor, Rodney Howard-Browne was arrested after holding a church service at The River Church in Tampa on March where a reported 500 people attended. The Sunday service violated the “social distancing guidelines” as the congregation was not keeping six feet apart. The deputy says the service should have been held online.

If you or someone you know have been arrested on charges that have been a result of orders that have been put into place during the coronavirus outbreak, it is imperative that you get the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. Russell Spatz has decades of experience and knows his way around the legal system, even in uncertain times like these. Give him a call today at 305-442-0200 to see what can be done in regards to your case.


Siemaszko, Corky. “Florida Megachurch Pastor Caves after Defying Coronavirus Rules.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 10 Apr. 2020,

Theisen, Tiffini. “Florida Woman Who Thought She Had Coronavirus Arrested after Filming Herself Walking Outside, Police Say.”, Orlando Sentinel, 3 Apr. 2020,

FOX 35 Orlando. “‘I Hope You Catch Corona’: Florida Man Arrested after Coughing on Deputies, Threatening to Kill Mom, Deputies Say.” FOX 35 Orlando, FOX 35 Orlando, 12 Apr. 2020,

Filosa, Gwen. “He Rented out an Airbnb during the Coronavirus Crisis, and Police Say That’s a Crime.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 7 Apr. 2020,

By: WFTX Staff. “People Arrested for Violating Isolation Orders in Florida Will Get No Bond Pending First Appearance.” WFTS, 6 Apr. 2020,

staff, WEAR. “Deputies: 3 Arrested on Florida Beach after Violating Governor’s Coronavirus Order.” WEAR, WEAR, 20 Mar. 2020,

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