COVID-19 negligence can earn you 2 years’ imprisonment
In addition to newly announced penalties for breaching health directives, the Queensland Criminal Code gives powers to enforce even harsher punishments, says Creevey Russell Lawyers.
In response to the resurgence of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia’s southern states, the Queensland government announced earlier in July that it would hand down harsher penalties for those in breach of the COVID-19 health directives, including a penalty of six months behind bars.
However, any person who knowingly has transmitted coronavirus COVID-19 to someone else without taking precautions could face up to two years in jail, according to Creevey Russell Lawyers.
According to Craig van der Hoven, a lawyer in the firm’s crime and misconduct division, the state government has the power under s328 of the Queensland Criminal Code to enforce even harsher sentences for more serious COVID-19 breaches than those announced by the government.
“Those who are aware they have the COVID virus but don’t take precautions and then transmit it to another person, could be charged with ‘[negligent acts causing harm]’, which carries a term of two [years’] imprisonment,” he said.
“Prosecutors will need to prove in court the accused did an act or omitted to do an act which it was his or her duty to do by which bodily harm was actually caused to any person and that such an act or omission was unlawful.”
The comments come as two teenage girls with COVID-19 have been fined $4,000 each after travelling to Brisbane from Melbourne and lying to authorities about where they had been.
Creevey Russell principal Dan Creevey added despite the government imposing a fine of $4,003 for COVID-19 breaches, “people remain undeterred and have still been willing to run the gauntlet in order to bypass Queensland’s border restrictions”.
“In response to the careless disregard of those breaching social distance rules and making false declarations to cross the Queensland border, the [government] made amendments to the public health directives, so those in breach will either receive an [on-the-spot] fine of $4,003 or face court and a penalty of up to [six-month] imprisonment,” he said.
“The inclusion of imprisonment as a penalty is intended to keep Queenslanders safe by further deterring those willing to breach [government] guidelines and falsify their border declarations. Whether you receive a fine or a court date is up to the discretion of the police.
“And as we point out, people knowingly transmitting the virus can already face the prospect of a two-year prison sentence if convicted.”