South Florida Weird Crime News: COVID-19 Edition
Florida has often been associated with bizarre crime stories, but the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in weird crime news throughout the US. Despite experts’ predictions that unlawful activity would drop as Americans comply with stay-at-home orders, a Miami Herald article dated April 11, 2020 reveals a new phenomenon: Coronavirus crime. In some cases, the offenses are minor and don’t even rise to the level of misdemeanor. However, law enforcement has also made arrests regarding serious charges like assault and battery.
While you should always discuss your specific situation with a Florida criminal defense lawyer, check out a few examples of how people are getting into legal trouble during the COVID-19 crisis.
Going Pants-Less = Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition: Coronavirus notwithstanding, wearing clothing is still necessary when you’re in public. Police have been busy across the country reminding people to wear pants, even when getting the mail. In Florida, you could be charged with Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition, sometimes referred to as “flashing” one’s genitals in the presence of a child. The crime is a Second Degree Felony that carries hefty fines and jail time – plus, the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Coughing, and Spitting = Assault: Scientists have concluded that COVID-19 can be transmitted through saliva droplets, a revelation that has led to increases in offenses involving coughing and sneezing on other people. This conduct could amount to assault, even when there’s no physical contact between the offender and victim. The definition of assault is an intentional, unlawful threat against someone, coupled with the fear that violence is imminent.
Toilet Paper Fights = Battery: Law enforcement has reported an uptick in physical altercations over toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other in-demand products – both at home and in stores. Police were called to the resident of a woman who accused her son of punching her after she hid the family supply of TP. In another incident, officers rushed to a big box store to break up a fight that erupted when a new supply of toilet paper was placed on shelves.
Depriving Storeowner of Use of Merchandise = Shoplifting: A woman probably didn’t expect that she’d be arrested after coughing all over a store’s produce section, but the supermarket is pressing charges. The details have yet to be announced, but it’s possible the crime will be shoplifting which, in Florida, includes more than just carrying away merchandise. This woman deprived the storeowner of $35,000 worth of products they were forced to throw away, so she could face prison time, fines, and restitution.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney for Legal Help
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for many in South Florida, but criminal laws and rules of procedure remain the same. You could face serious charges and harsh penalties for a conviction, so it’s wise to retain legal counsel as early as possible in your criminal case. For more information on how we can help, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can answer your questions or schedule a confidential consultation at our office.