Amid the coronavirus crisis, a worrying trend has emerged – multiple instances of people claiming to have COVID-19 and deliberately coughing on police officers and other members of the public.
With coronavirus now well established as a high infectious and deadly disease, people who deliberately cough on others could face serious criminal charges and the possibility of more than a decade behind bars, a criminal lawyer has told nine.com.au.
But what if he had been and then infected someone else through the deliberate act of cough onto them?
Danny Shaw, a criminal lawyer from the Marackville Legal Centre, said the result of infecting someone with a serious illness, could be much more serious than a fine.
One of the least severe charges someone could face for deliberately coughing on another person is assault.
“If someone coughed at another person and there was some spit that touched them, that would be assault, that’s commonly accepted in criminal law,” said Mr Shaw.
“It can get worse, so if there was a virus involved and that person got quite sick, that could be grievous bodily harm.”
When a person commits these crimes on a police officer, the penalty will be even harsher, and offenders could be looking at 10 years in jail.
“In the worst-case scenario, if someone died, there could be the possibility of manslaughter,” Mr Shaw said.
“If you break it down, if I had a disease and I coughed on a person intentionally and they got it and they died, and there was a connection between my action and the person dying arguably my reckless action has resulted in their death and that would be manslaughter.”
Mr Shaw said these kinds of charges are not merely a possibility, but more likely a certainty.
“To say someone who does this could face criminal charges is like saying the sun will come up tomorrow.”
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, sent a clear message yesterday reading a passage from the Attorney-General’s Department saying, “the deliberate transmission of COVID-19 is an offence under the general criminal laws that apply in every state and territory. The most serious of these open fences may carry maximum penalties up to imprisonment for life.”
In addition, Mr Hunt affirmed that criminal laws also make it an offence to cause someone fear they are having the virus transmitted to them.
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