By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

Dauphin County DA says prosecution in only, “extraordinary circumstances” for violations of the COVID-19 orders

Dauphin County DA says prosecution in only, “extraordinary circumstances” for violations of the COVID-19 orders

Harrisburg, PA

District Attorney Fran Chardo announced today that prosecution for violations of the Governor’s Orders related to COVID-19 would only occur in extraordinary circumstances.  Chardo said that “people are being smart, wearing masks, and maintaining social distance.  Using criminal sanctions would not be helpful. The criminal law is a blunt instrument and is not ordinarily used for enforcement of a Governor’s decree.” 

At the District Attorney’s request, President Judge John F. Cherry ordered that all prosecutions for alleged violations of the Governor’s Orders occurring in Dauphin County be consolidated before a single magisterial district judge.  President Judge Cherry appointed Magisterial District Judge William C. Wenner to preside over all such cases in the County.  Chardo has requested that Judge Wenner not move forward on any citation or complaint until the District Attorney’s Office has reviewed the matter.  The rules relating to summary citations do not provide for prior approval by the district attorney in the same way that felonies and misdemeanors do. 

Chardo indicated that absent extraordinary circumstances, he would withdraw any citation for such an alleged violation. 

District Attorney Chardo say his office has not had any prosecutions for violations of the Governor’s Order and he believes that people will continue to act reasonably.