In our continuing coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve covered many crimes associated with the coronavirus, including domestic violence, breaking social distancing laws, exposing someone to the virus, hate crimes and some surprising crimes like coughing on produce and even derailing a train. In this newest roundup of crimes associated with the coronavirus, we’ll be covering reckless driving, hacking and even murder.
A few things people were happily surprised to see occur as a side effect of the coronavirus were a reduction in pollution and in traffic. Unfortunately, some drivers have been taking advantage of the empty streets and choosing to drive at dangerous speeds or test their drifting skills. Some people have been racing one another, but most have just been trying to see how fast they can drive -and either way, this excessive speeding is dangerous and likely to leave you facing criminal charges.
On the upside, you’re likely to only be cited for these crimes because authorities are still trying to keep the jail populations down, but you will still likely face misdemeanor charges and your vehicle may still be impounded. It’s worth adding that if you are driving recklessly to take yourself or someone to the hospital, this is an absolute defense, but only if no cabs or ambulances were readily available as an alternative.
Hacking to Check on Someone’s Stimulus Check
A lot of landlords have been getting antsy to get paid backrent from tenants who couldn’t afford to pay rent until their stimulus checks arrived. But no matter how desperately a landlord needs to get paid, that doesn’t excuse logging into the IRS website with tenant social security numbers to see when or if their tenant has received a stimulus check. This has been happening with surprisingly frequency, but the landlords doing it aren’t just violating tenant privacy, checking on someone else’s stimulus check through the IRS portal is illegal.
Aside from federal charges related to spying on someone’s tax records, using someone else’s information to view a private website is a violation of California’s unauthorized computer access law. This can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor and is punishable by up to three years in prison if you’re found guilty.
A local San Diego doctor has actually gotten busted for a crime associated with the coronavirus after fraudulently prescribing a “guaranteed” Covid-19 treatment pack that has included the antibacterial Azithromycin, anti-anxiety drugs, intravenous drips, time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and the widely publicized anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine (which may actually be ineffective at fighting the coronavirus). He’s being charged federally for this type of prescription fraud, and he will likely not only face imprisonment and fines, but also the loss of his medical license.
Murder Due to Failure to Shelter at Home
Tensions at home are high, especially as many young people fight their parents for the chance to go see their friends. In one unfortunate case in Georgia, a family quarrel about a teen leaving home despite the shelter-at-home order left the teen dead and his step father being charged with murder.
Protesting the Stay at Home Order
California’s stay at home order specifically allowed for police to be able to arrest and/or charge people who get together in groups of more than 50. Despite that, officers have largely respected the right to free speech of those who protested the stay at home order despite the fact that many protesters refused to wear masks or follow social distancing guidelines. They did issue a citation against the organizer of the rally after the fact though, noting that she failed to adhere to the state’s stay at home order.
The ACLU is fighting the charges though, arguing that she was within her constitutional rights and adhered to social distancing guidelines. If she is convicted, she will face a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.
If you have been accused of any of crimes associated with the coronavirus, remember that even if you are only cited and not arrested, you can still face fines as well as jail or prison time in the future. Although you may be given a court date for the summer, you can hire a lawyer now to advocate your interests before prosecutors file charges against you. A criminal defense lawyer can be critical in helping you fight these charges now and when your court date arrives. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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