COVID-19 is changing nearly every aspect of American lives, most notably social lives, physical and mental well-being, employment, and the list goes on. It is also changing the legal landscape. As per the Department of Justice (DOJ), the intentional spreading of the coronavirus constitutes as an act of terrorism. In addition, the DOJ is committed to bringing criminals who are accused of using the pandemic to their benefit in front of the court.
Attempts or Threats of Infection Intolerable
The March 24, 2020 memo from the Justice Department regarding COVID-19 states that the "purposeful exposure or infection of others" could lead to charges of terrorism. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen expressed in this memo directed at federal law enforcement agencies and United States attorneys that the coronavirus falls under the statutory definition of a "biological agent." Thus, the intentional spread of this virus could be subject to statutes related to terrorism. Rosen went on to say that any threats or attempts of coronavirus infection in this country are unacceptable.
As the number of fatalities and infected Americans continues to grow in every state, the federal government contemplates what aggressive measures it should enact to those who pursue this biological weapon crime. Rosen emphasizes that during this unprecedented and troubling time, the government must do everything in its power to protect the rights and security of all Americans. However, this might lead to overzealous and wrongful arrests.
People Accused of Using Coronavirus to Their Advantage
The intentional spread of the virus is not the only thing this pandemic has brought to the attention of the DOJ and the Attorney General. The DOJ has already received numerous pandemic-related complaints regarding such criminal activity as:
- Robocalls making deceitful offers to sell PPE such as respirator masks with no plans of distribution
- Bogus coronavirus apps and websites that install malware on the victim's device
Rosen makes it abundantly clear that preying on Americans, garnering illegal profits, or other disgraceful acts during this time of national crisis will not be tolerated. In fact, before Rosen released his memo, Attorney General William Barr instructed federal prosecutors to prioritize investigations pertaining to cons and hackers taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis.
Barr's memo is directed at all U.S. attorneys and references complaints regarding:
- Online sales of false cures for COVID-19
- Individuals pretending to be public health officials sending scam emails
Just like Deputy Attorney Rosen, Barr explained that these crimes and other similar ones are intolerable. They will be pursued to the extent that the law allows. This also likely means there will be plenty of people facing false allegations and overly harsh consequences.
DOJ on Critical Mission to Detect, Investigate, and Prosecute
Barr's memo also recognized that the coronavirus crisis already presents real and perceived dangers to the American people. Anyone attempting to capitalize on public panic or participating in other illegal conduct related to the pandemic will be investigated and prosecuted.
While much of the country is shut down, Barr assures Americans that law enforcement and the justice system will continue to stand vigilant against all criminals, especially those who prey on already vulnerable and concerned Americans. If you are arrested and accused of a crime related to COVID-19, expect aggressive prosecution. This means you need an aggressive defense.
Speak with a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
The experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense team at Taylor Law Group is ready to help. We help our clients defend against all types of criminal charges, so please do not wait to contact us online or call 615-890-1982 for a consultation.