Refusing to follow public health protocols or quarantine procedures – California Health and Safety Codes HSC 120275 and 120280

Posted by Raoul Severo | Nov 01, 2020 | 0 Comments

In light of the current health crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, health and safety procedures are put into practice. These are protocols created to contain and lessen the chances of infection and fight the virus. However, there are still people violating protocols and procedures, risking themselves and the public. To discourage people from unnecessarily endangering themselves and others, California enacted HSC 120275 and 120280 to criminalize health and safety protocol violators.

California Health and Safety Code HSC 120275

Any person who, after notice, violates, or who, upon the demand of any health officer, refuses or neglects to conform to, any rule, order, or regulation prescribed by the department respecting a quarantine or disinfection of persons, animals, things, or places, is guilty of a misdemeanor

California Health and Safety Code HSC 120280

Inasmuch as the orders provided for by HSC 121365 are for the protection of the public health, any person who, after service upon him or her of an order of a local health officer as provided in Section 121365 violates or fails to comply with the order, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction thereof, in addition to any and all other penalties that may be imposed by law upon the conviction, the person may be ordered by the court confined until the order of the local health officer shall have been fully complied with or terminated by the local health officer, but not exceeding one year from the date of passing judgment upon the conviction, further, the court, upon suitable assurances that the order of the local health officer will be complied with, may place any person convicted of a violation of the order of the local health officer upon probation for a period not to exceed two years, upon condition that the order of the local health officer be fully complied with, further, upon any subsequent violation of the order of the local health officer, the probation shall be terminated and confinement, as provided for in this section,

shall be ordered by the court. Confinement may be accomplished by placement in any appropriate facility, penal institution, or dwelling approved for the specific case by the local health officer.


Violating health and safety protocols is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are offenses more serious as opposed to an infraction but less severe in comparison to felonies.

As a punishment for violating the law, like all misdemeanors, offenders of HSC 120275 and 120280 are subjected to the following:

  • custody in a county jail for up to six (six) months, and/or
  • a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).

However, depending on the nature of health and safety risks that the offender brings, he/she can also be sent to isolate and quarantine in a proper medical facility to be tended and lessen the risks of spreading viral conditions.

Related Laws

  • Health and Safety Code HSC 120195 – Health officer enforcing protocols
  • Health and Safety Code HSC 120290 – Intentionally transmitting infectious disease
  • California Penal Code PC 408 – Unlawful or illegal assembly
  • California Penal Code PC 415 – Disturbing the peace

Legal Defense

When facing health and safety protocol violation accusations, the defendant's legal counsel can use the following conditions in support of the defendant's case:

  • The defendant committed the act out of necessity and/or
  • The defendant did not intentionally violate the health and safety protocol.

Committed out of necessity - This condition applies to when the violator had to commit the act out of necessity and lack other options. Some reasons under this include food, medical, or supply trips.

Unintentional violation - This condition applies to when the violator accidentally committed the act due to reasons that he/she was not made aware of any posted protocols and prohibitions. This is often used by elderlies ignorant of the announcements due to their lack of access to modern communication methods.

Legal Support

Being wrongfully accused of violating health and safety protocols can greatly affect one's life. This can impact a person's reputation or worst; this can cause unnecessary health scares and hysteria—all those without mentioning the possible civil, social, and criminal liabilities. That is why if anyone ever had the misfortune of being in legal disputes like wrongful accusations, it would be their best decision to implore the aid of our professional law practitioner. Our roster of California-based attorneys can help people exercise their rights and represent them during legal conflicts.

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