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How can you be charged with wearing a mask during the pandemic?

Posted at 5:56 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 17:56:27-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Chesterfield man accused of robbing a Sheetz gas station also now faces charges of wearing a mask in public.

"If the governor requires us to wear a mask in public, how can you charge somebody for wearing a mask in public? It just makes zero sense to me," one man said after learning about the Chesterfield arrest.

Jimine G. Carter, 39, was arrested for the August 13 robbery at the Sheetz at 20 S. Providence Road.

"[He] entered the store, displayed a handgun, and demanded money from the clerk," a Chesterfield Police spokesperson said. "[He] then went behind the counter and took cash. Two customers attempted to stop the suspect, but the suspect fled on foot toward a nearby Super 8 Motel."

Police arrested Carter at the motel, according to Crime Insider sources.

He was later charged with robbery, abduction, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, assault and battery, and wearing a mask in public.

It's the last charge that raised some questions.

"The mask law still in effect that prohibits people from wearing a mask to effectuate a crime. So if someone's wearing a mask to conceal their identity for that purpose, it's still a criminal offense," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said. "But as a practical matter, it will be a lot tougher perhaps these days to prove that intent. Because we're required to wear masks."

Ultimately for Carter, the mask charge may be the least of his worries.

"His defense attorney obviously has a much better argument to have that charge go away than perhaps some of the others," Stone said. "But again, that is a class six felony. And so that's the lower level felony. A robbery, in comparison, is so much more serious and aggravated and the penalty is so much higher."

Carter was jailed without bond.

Anyone with information was asked to call Chesterfield Police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.