Can You Be Charged with a Crime in New Jersey Related to COVID-19?
Posted by Scott Gorman - July 31, 2020

In New Jersey, authorities are cracking down on individuals who put others at risk, or who threaten to put others at risk, by exposing them to the COVID-19 virus. Prosecutors have been filing charges since the start of the pandemic, and they are continuing to do so as the pandemic maintains its stranglehold on day-to-day life. Here, Hackensack criminal defense lawyer Scott Gorman discusses five possible charges related specifically to COVID-19.  

5 Possible Criminal Charges Related to COVID-19 in New Jersey

1. Making Terroristic Threats

In March, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal made national headlines when he announced charges against a man accused of, “coughing on a supermarket employee and saying he was infected with the coronavirus.” The charges included making terroristic threats, which is a third-degree indictable offense under Section 2C:12-3 of the New Jersey Code. Third-degree indictable offenses carry penalties of three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

2. Maintaining a Nuisance

Individuals who host parties or other large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic may be at risk for facing charges of maintaining a nuisance under Section 2C:33-1(a)2 of the New Jersey Code. This section makes it a disorderly persons offense to, “knowingly or recklessly create[] or maintain[] a condition which endangers the safety or health of a considerable number of persons.” In New Jersey, a conviction for a disorderly persons offense carries up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

3. Abuse and Neglect of a Child

Under Section 9:6-3 of the New Jersey Code, “[a]ny parent, guardian or person having the care, custody or control of any child, who shall abuse, abandon, be cruel to or neglectful of such child, or any person who shall abuse, be cruel to or neglectful of any child shall be deemed to be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, this could potentially encompass exposing a child to the virus. Fourth degree indictable offenses carry up to 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine

4. Endangering the Welfare of a Child

Under Section 2C:24-4 of the New Jersey Code, parents, guardians, babysitters or other caregivers can potentially face a second-degree charge for exposing a child to COVID-19, and other individuals can be charged with a third-degree indictable offense for endangering the welfare of a child by failing to maintain social distancing. Second degree indictable offenses carry five to 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

5. Endangering the Welfare of an Elderly or Disabled Adult

In addition to endangering children by exposing them to COVID-19, individuals in New Jersey can also face criminal charges for exposing elderly and disabled adults to the virus. Violation of Section 2C:24-7 (Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person) is a disorderly persons offense, while violation of Section 2C:24-8 (Neglect of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult) is a third-degree crime.

Discuss Your Case with Hackensack Criminal Defense Lawyer Scott Gorman

Have you been charged with a crime related to COVID-19 in New Jersey? If so, you need to discuss your case with an attorney promptly. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Hackensack criminal defense lawyer Scott Gorman, call 201-489-9199 or inquire online now.

Published in Categories: Criminal Defense