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What Are the Penalties for Opening a Business in Beverly Hills Illegally During COVID-19?

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, orders were placed all around the country which required non-essential businesses to close to the public, and, in some cases, cease operations entirely. As the situation with COVID-19 in LA develops, more and more business owners are thinking about reopening their businesses even if they are not legally allowed to do so.

Opening a business in Beverly Hills in violation of the Safer LA act is a misdemeanor and carries these penalties:

  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • Or, both a fine and prison time
  • The business’ water and electric utilities may be shut off by the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety

Additionally, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has established that penalties and fines may also be accrued from the California divisions of:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA)
  • The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)
  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

Fines from these regulatory boards vary depending on the type and severity of the related offense and may be as high as $20,000 or more.

We’ll explain more about these penalties below in order to better help you understand. However, if you are currently being faced with charges for opening your business illegally in LA, contact us immediately at 323-655-5700 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. William Kroger is an experienced LA criminal defense lawyer and the rest of our legal team here has a proven track record for helping those facing criminal charges. In these unprecedented circumstances, you need an LA criminal defense attorney with the experience to defend you.

What Is Considered an Essential Business in Beverly Hills?

In order to prevent an undue shortage of goods or essential services, certain businesses are allowed to remain open in Beverly Hills during the COVID-19 pandemic. If your business belongs to any of the groups listed under §5.7(vii) of Mayor Garcetti’s SAFER L.A. order, then you are legally allowed to remain open. Here is a small selection of those businesses:

  • Grocery stores, produce stands, convenience stores, and other similar stores
  • Restaurants, but only for delivery, carryout, or outdoor seating
  • Agricultural operations, such as farming, livestock, and fishing
  • Gas stations
  • Auto repair shops
  • Hardware supply shops
  • Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other trade work
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners

For a full list of businesses which are allowed to operate, see here.

Even if you are an essential business, you may still face fines from regulatory boards such as OSHA if you do not follow the established safety protocols.

What Penalties Could I Face for Opening My Business Illegally during COVID-19?

In order to better explain the penalties, we’ve broken them down into separate categories.

Primary Penalties

There are no specific COVID-19 related penalties for opening a business in Beverly Hills illegally during the pandemic. The misdemeanor charge comes as a result of California Government Code §8665 and LA Charter §8.77 and §8.78. These sections deal with the violation of an order that has been enacted during an emergency.

Both §8865 in the California Government Code and §8.77 of the Los Angeles Charter outlines this charge as a misdemeanor and gives it the following penalties:

  • $1000 in fines
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • Or, both fines and prison time

The Los Angeles Charter §8.78 defines the punishments for violating an established curfew. You may face this charge in addition if you are deemed to be unlawfully conducting your business past curfew, if curfew is in effect.

  • $1000 in fines
  • Up to 6 months in prison
  • Both fines and prison time
OSHA Penalties

In addition to any penalties accrued from the misdemeanor charges, you or your business may also receive penalties from the California division of OSHA if you included any employees in your unlawful operation in Beverly Hills. OSHA has not been shy about handing out such penalties, and many businesses have received them already.

OSHA penalties vary depending on the exact regulation which was broken. One of the most common regulations broken during unlawful openings is §5(a)(1) of the OSH Act of 1970, often called the “General Duty Clause.”

This clause states:

“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;”

If you open your business in Beverly Hills unlawfully during the COVID-19 state of emergency in LA, OSHA may issue a citation for breaking this clause.

Pursuant to §17(a) of the OSH Act, you would receive a fine of at least $5,000 and up to $70,000 per violation. This means that you may face multiple penalties for each employee you included in your unlawful opening. OSHA has already begun handing such penalties out across the United States.

Other Penalties

In addition to OSHA penalties, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has also authorized:

  • The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)
  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement

To further enforce the emergency orders. This means you may also be eligible to receive fines from these organizations, should they decide to penalize you.

Legal Charges for Opening Your Business: How We Can Help

It seems like there is an ever-growing list of new emergency regulations and laws which you must obey as a business owner in Beverly Hills.

If you have been charged with a violation of any of these emergency orders related to your business, we urge you to contact us today so we can discuss the details of your case for free. William Kroger and the rest of our legal team here have decades of experience defending against all manner of criminal charges and a proven track record for having charges reduced or dropped entirely.

Having an experienced and trusted Los Angeles criminal lawyer on your side is extremely important, now more than ever. Contact us today at 323-655-5700 for a free consultation so we can begin preparing your defense against these charges.

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