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VERIFY: Can you be penalized for ignoring a mandatory evacuation?

Can you be penalized for ignoring a mandatory evacuation?


Can you be penalized for ignoring a mandatory evacuation?


Technically, yes. It's a misdemeanor in Virginia and North Carolina, but practically police won't arrest you.


Virginia Law

Virginia penalty for Class 1 misdemeanor

North Carolina Law

North Carolina penalty for Class 2 misdemeanor

South Carolina Law

York County Virginia Sheriff's Facebook post

Norma Houston- Law Professor at University North Carolina Chapel Hill: 'Mandatory Evacuations-Are They Really Enforceable?'


All week long WUSA9 Verify researchers have been tracking misinformation coming around Hurricane Florence.

Governors in the Carolinas and Virginia have all issued mandatory evacuations along the coast, and Virginia won't be rescinding the order anytime soon, according to Jeff Caldwell, Director of External Affairs at Virginia's Department of Emergency Management.

Lots of people online are confused about whether a mandatory evacuation is actually enforceable.

We verified: can you be arrested for refusing to evacuate?

First, our researchers dug up the laws.

In South Carolina, state code says the Governor can "compel" an evacuation, but there's no punishment for people who refuse.

In North Carolina, you can be get up to to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 dollar fine and a Class 2 misdemeanor.

In Virginia it's a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying up to 12 months jail time and up to a $2,500 fine.

So yes, technically you can be arrested for resisting evacuation. But would you? Not likely.

The Sheriff in York County Virginia said his squad is NOT gonna arrest residents for failing to evacuate—the decision to leave is up to you.

A law professor at the University of North Carolina backed that up in a blog.

"Of course, state and local officials are not likely to order the mass arrest of individuals who refuse to heed a mandatory evacuation order," Norma Houston wrote. "This does not mean that mandatory evacuation orders should be ignored."

So we can Verify under state law in North Carolina and Virginia you can be fined and imprisoned for failing to evacuate but it's unlikely.


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