The Sun Sentinel reported on March 13 that “Palm Beach County authorities said Friday they’re exploring whether to pursue criminal charges in such instances — just days after a man took a flight to Palm Beach County without notifying those aboard about his pending coronavirus test. The passenger landed at Palm Beach International Airport on Wednesday night.” Furthermore, the article also stated that authorities are investigating where prosecution can occur when an individual KNOWINGLY exposes others to the virus.
Although there has been no prosecution as of yet for individuals who knowingly expose someone to COVID-19, it is speculated that the prosecution would be similar to Florida Statute that punish individuals who knowingly transmit STDS to others. Florida Statute 384.24 declares “ It is unlawful for any person who has chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, genital herpes simplex, chlamydia, nongonococcal urethritis (NGU), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)/acute salpingitis, or syphilis, when such person knows he or she is infected with one or more of these diseases and when such person has been informed that he or she may communicate this disease to another person through sexual intercourse, to have sexual intercourse with any other person, unless such other person has been informed of the presence of the sexually transmissible disease and has consented to the sexual intercourse.”
How Will Criminal Penalties Change since the Governor of Florida Declared a State of Emergency?
Currently if someone commits the above crime, they can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor and face up to 364 days in jail. However, a person commits a third degree felony if a person has HIV and “when such person knows he or she is infected with this disease and when such person has been informed that he or she may communicate this disease to another person through sexual intercourse, to have sexual intercourse with any other person, unless such other person has been informed of the presence of the sexually transmissible disease and has consented to the sexual intercourse.” If you are alleged to have committed this crime and are found guilty of committing this crime you can face up to five years in Florida state prison. The punishment also increases to a first degree felony if a person commits multiple violations of this statute. A first degree felony is punishable by up to thirty years in Florida state prison.
Increased Punishment for Crimes Committed During a State of Emergency
This is not the only possible criminal punishment that can arise during this pandemic. It should be noted that the state of Florida has passed legislation that enhances the penalty for certain crimes committed during a state of emergency. Under Florida Statute 812.014 it states “…if the property is stolen within a county that is subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor under chapter 252, the theft is committed after the declaration of emergency is made, and the perpetration of the theft is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the theft is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this paragraph, the term “conditions arising from the emergency” means civil unrest, power outages, curfews, voluntary or mandatory evacuations, or a reduction in the presence of or response time for first responders or homeland security personnel.”
Furthermore, under the Florida Statute 810.02 which defines the crime of Burglary it states, “…if the burglary is committed within a county that is subject to a state of emergency declared by the Governor under chapter 252 after the declaration of emergency is made and the perpetration of the burglary is facilitated by conditions arising from the emergency, the burglary is a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this subsection, the term “conditions arising from the emergency” means civil unrest, power outages, curfews, voluntary or mandatory evacuations, or a reduction in the presence of or response time for first responders or homeland security personnel. A person arrested for committing a burglary within a county that is subject to such a state of emergency may not be released until the person appears before a committing magistrate at a first appearance hearing.”
On March 9, 2020 Governor DeSantis declared a state of emergency in Florida. Since the governor has declared Florida to be in a state of emergency, the enhancements in the Florida statutes for crimes committed during a state of emergency come into play. It is possible that if you are alleged of committing a crime during this time period the penalties you are facing could double. For example, ordinarily a second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison. If you are alleged to commit a burglary during the state of emergency, even though ordinarily this would only be a second degree felony, the statute permits this felony to be enhanced to a first degree felony and you are now exposed to thirty years in Florida State Prison. If you find yourself in a bind during this unpredictable time, know that The Law offices of Robert Malove are here to assist you. Even though the courthouses are operating under an alternative schedule, we are still open and able to consult you about any questions you may have regarding any criminal matters.
What should you know about the Corona virus and How it is Affecting the Justice System in South Florida?
In Broward County, The Seventeenth Judicial Circuit has implemented its Continuity of Operations Plan, and accordingly, no public access will be allowed at any of Broward County’s four courthouses beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, for a period of two weeks.
The only exceptions at the Main Central Courthouse are for the following: Persons seeking domestic violence injunctions (2nd floor, West building) Jurors currently empaneled in trial in certain criminal cases. Persons permitted, by advance notice, by the Chief Judge and/or presiding judge.
Essential due process proceedings will still be held in the Main Central Courthouse (First Appearances, a.m. and p.m.; Juvenile Detentions p.m.; Juvenile Shelters, p.m).
Until further notice, no proceedings will be held at any satellite courthouse (North Regional in Deerfield Beach; West Regional in Plantation; South Regional in Hollywood).
In Palm Beach County
The courts of the Circuit are proceeding with all court events except all grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials are suspended during the period beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 27, 2020, or as provided by subsequent order. However, a proceeding that has been commenced may proceed to completion if the presiding judge, with approval of the chief judge, determines that completion of the proceeding without delay is required by the interests of justice.. Therefore, if you have a scheduled court hearing and it is not a jury trial, you must appear either in person or telephonically. If you wish to appear telephonically, please contact your attorney. If you do not have an attorney you must contact the divisional judge's office in advance. The courthouses are open.
In Miami Dade County
The courthouse is still open, however, Miami-Dade County Circuit Court shut down public access for all but urgent proceedings. Chief Judge Bertila Soto signed an order limiting hearings to first appearances, mental health orders and juvenile proceedings. No other public access will be allowed in any of the circuit courthouses in Miami-Dade County through March 27.
Florida Supreme Court Issued an Administrative Order
Chef Judge Canady from the Florida Supreme Court issued an Administrative Order AOSC20-13 on Friday March 13, 2020. The administrative order refers to health measures that should be implemented in order to protect the public from COVID-19. The order also refers to suspensions of certain court proceedings and suspension of procedural time limits. In the order, the Supreme Court held that all time periods involving the speedy trial procedure, in criminal and juvenile court proceedings, are suspended from the close of business on Friday, March 13, 2020, until the close of business on Monday, March 30, 2020, or as provided by subsequent order. Furthermore, the Court held that it is the intent of this order temporarily to suspend grand jury proceedings, jury selection proceedings, and criminal and civil jury trials, and to temporarily suspend procedural requirements and limitations that could hinder efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts, court participants, and all the people of Florida.
Jail visits in Miami Dade County are being restricted. At this time only essential professional visitation will still be permitted though the “underglass” partition visiting area. In Broward County it is being reported that as of tomorrow March 17, attorney visits to jails will be restricted. Details have yet to be disclosed.
Don't Hesitate To Call Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Contact The Law Offices of Robert David Malove today to schedule a confidential review of your criminal case and to discuss all your legal options. We know what your options are and we'll be straight with you about chances of an acquittal or a plea bargain to a lesser charge. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. Connect with us today.