COVID-19: attention to jokes and other ill-considered action, warns a lawyer

COVID-19: attention aux blagues et autres gestes irréfléchis, prévient un juriste

COVID-19: attention aux blagues et autres gestes irréfléchis, prévient un juriste

The chairman of the advisory committee of the Barreau du Québec in criminal law, mr. Pascal Lévesque

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June 26, 2020 9h23

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COVID-19: attention to jokes and other ill-considered action, warns a lawyer

Jean-Benoit Legault

The canadian Press

MONTREAL – The courts would throw probably a look very severe on those who, in the context of a pandemic, if aviseraient cough or sneeze voluntarily on someone else, warned an expert consulted by The canadian Press.

“We can’t afford to be “funny” with it, said the chairman of the advisory committee of the Barreau du Québec in criminal law, mr. Pascal Lévesque.

“I have the impression that the courts would not be so friendly either. With all the publicity and the opinion of the government, in a case proved, the courts will certainly consider that it is an aggravating factor of having it done in a context of COVID. The defense of the “joke” would be difficult.”

It has been reported more incidents of the kind since the beginning of the pandemic, some of which have even been filmed and put online by their authors.

Recently, a lady would have coughed intentionally in the face of the daughter of dr. Alain Vadeboncoeur, who was wearing a mask in the Montreal metro.

The motivations of the lady are not known, and it is not impossible that she had a mental health problem, but “a gesture that seeks to use force against someone, it can be considered assault,” said I Lévesque.

Serious consequences

The context is very important, “he continues,” and it may be that actions that would have been commonplace before the pandemic to be a little less today.

And if ever the person who has coughed, sneezed or spat falls sick, the slope could get very slippery, very quickly.

“It would be a matter of proof, said to Me, Levesque. It could go (…) up to the criminal negligence that caused the injury.”

Or even charges of criminal negligence causing death, if the victim of the gesture had health problems underlying, and that the infection would cost him his life. Such an offence is liable to a sentence of life imprisonment.

The situation is reminiscent of what happened a few years ago, when people who knew HIV had unprotected sex with partners they had not been informed of their state of health.

“It is a reasoning similar estimated Me Levesque. Is it that it would be a copy-and-paste? I don’t know. (…) It is not known how a court would see it.”

A question of intentions

The intentions of the person who would be such a gesture would count a lot too.

“There is a difference between the person who makes a “joke” in very poor taste and the other who suffers from mental health problems, which could explain [his actions] without excuse”, has shown Me Levesque.

The situation would be radically different, for example, if we had to deal with a guy who coughed, or spat on his ex-girlfriend in the hope of infecting them with the coronavirus.

“Here, we have a plan, an intention, something planned on the long term, it has specified Me Levesque. There are different degrees.”

A bit like the evil prankster that evoke the presence of a bomb in their luggage at the time of the change to the security at the airport, so there are jokes that there has been interest in keeping it to ourselves – and gestures that it is really better not to ask.

“I highly discourage people to test the limits of the judicial system, has respondent to Me, Levesque. The Crown prosecutors take it very seriously in the current context. (…) The people must have a lot of respect and serious compared to these gestures-there.”

Le Soleil

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