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Florida Contemplates Charging Those Who Knowingly Expose Others to Virus with Culpable Negligence


As the coronavirus pandemic brings more and more panic into our everyday lives, governors and other state officials have entered into emergency declarations and taken other measures to try and protect the general public health, such as ordering particular individuals to self-isolate if they experience coronavirus symptoms. Indeed, authorities have been cracking down on people for doing a lot less in a number of states, filing disorderly conduct and public nuisance charges against people just for gathering in their own homes. In fact, Florida officials just arrested a pastor accused of unlawful assembly for holding Sunday services with hundreds of people and violating the safer-at-home orders.

However, in a number of cases, these charges are more serious: One man who recently boarded a plane with symptoms here in Florida ended up being questioned for several hours, leading the county sheriff to indicate that he could be charged with culpable negligence, and if he passed the virus to someone else who then died, potentially manslaughter. In this sense, Florida, and likely other states, may very well end up treating certain types of behavior with respect to the coronavirus in the same way that it criminalizes certain types of conduct that you know can place lives in danger, for example, knowingly transmitting HIV. In Florida, if you know that you have HIV and fail to disclose it to a partner, you can be charged with a third-degree felony, and spend up to five years in prison.

The Law in Florida

Paraphrasing how Florida law defines culpable negligence; It describes a course of conduct that displays a completely reckless disregard for human life and/or a defendant pursuing actions that they know or reasonably should know will likely cause death or great bodily injury. Any act or omission of an act must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others.  When the act simply results in exposure to danger without consequences, it is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. However, if harm is inflicted, it could be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.

If You Are Charged with A Crime in Florida, Contact The Baez Law Firm

As a result, there is no question that a number of behaviors could very well end up qualifying as culpable negligence, from walking into a store, to holding a gathering at one’s house, to boarding a plane, etc. It also means that police may use this opportunity to abuse their power and stop and question individuals under circumstances that they otherwise would not be able to. If you or a loved one is being charged with a crime here in Florida, or have concerns about your civil rights at this time, contact the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm for a free consultation to find out how we can help.



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