DOJ States Spreading Coronavirus Intentionally is Now a Terrorist Act
There are increases in different crimes in Texas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including fraud, shoplifting, violating state safety orders, and more. The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently communicated to all of its U.S. Attorney’s offices that intentionally spreading, attempting to spread, or threatening to spread the novel coronavirus should be charged as terrorism on the federal level.
The DOJ claims that COVID-19 should be considered to be a “biological agent,” which classifies its purposeful spread as an act of terrorism. Threatening to infect someone else can qualify as a terroristic threat. Both terrorism and terroristic threats are serious felony charges under federal law. The possible penalties will vary depending on the circumstances involved, though it can involve many years in prison.
Teen Arrested for Terroristic Threats in Texas
In early April, an 18-year-old in Texas reportedly posted a series of Snapchat videos that showed her going through a drive-through testing site, then shopping at a Walmart. In the videos, the young woman claimed she would “infest” everyone to take them “down” with her. She further states she will meet up with people and cough on them to shorten their lives.
She was then arrested and held on a $20,000 bond. Once released, she was ordered to quarantine herself at home for 21 days. She will face third-degree felony charges of terroristic threats.
This is only one example of how authorities are taking the new guidance seriously. People in other states have also been arrested and charged with terrorism or terroristic threats for conduct related to COVID-19, such as intentionally coughing on food at a grocery store or licking items at a Walmart.
Defending Against Coronavirus-Related Charges
Because many people are on edge due to the risks of serious illness, it is entirely possible that law enforcement might act too quickly, and people can be falsely accused of making threats or other coronavirus-related crimes. It is important to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to defend against serious charges in Texas.
Some defenses that might apply include:
- Your arrest was unlawful and violated your 4th Amendment rights
- You were falsely accused by the alleged victim
- The police arrested the wrong person (mistaken identity)
No matter what defenses are available in your case, you want to present the strongest defense possible to avoid a serious conviction and related penalties.
Contact a Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney for Assistance
Terrorism is far from the only type of charge that can arise from the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities are taking any type of coronavirus-related crime very seriously, and you can expect to be aggressively prosecuted if you are arrested. It is imperative that you have aggressive defense representation.
Kyle Whitaker is a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth who helps defend against a wide range of criminal charges. Contact us online or call 817-332-7703 as soon as possible after an arrest or receiving a summons for criminal charges.