Coronavirus (“Covid-19”) Causes Mayhem Among Australian Shoppers

The coronovirus is stifling the world around us

Coronavirus (“Covid-19”) Causes Mayhem Among Australian Shoppers

THE STORY

The Daily Mail reported police were called to Westfield Parramatta in relation to a ‘disturbance’. It has been alleged that one shopper has pulled a knife on another shopper during an argument over toilet paper. It was reported that no one was injured.

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On another occasion, a fight broke out in Woolworths over a packet of toilet paper. According to Yahoo News, three women allegedly engaged in a physical altercation after one of the ladies stacked her trolley filled with toilet paper. The Weekend Australia have confirmed that this took place at the Chullora store in Western Sydney. Police from the Bankstown Command Area were indeed called to the scene to bring the unnecessary dispute to a smooth resolution. It is alleged that an assault took place among the trio.

Unfortunately, an identical incident occurred in Revesby Woolworths where customers were aggressive and violent against one another to buy up toilet paper that the food giant has to offer.

The intensity and frenzy caused by the Covid-19 is now in full swing here in Australia with people being diagnosed with the virus on an almost daily basis. This is now quiet clearly causing such a frenzy here in Australia that it has impacted upon everyday Australians to act out in such a manner that contravenes our social norms.

The current statistics in Australia are 249 confirmed cases and rising. Current events include a mass ban on non-essential gatherings of over 500 people. New Zealand has introduced a compulsory quarantine period of 14 days for all travelers from all destinations. Schools have shut down amid the crisis as well as temporary disturbances in the jury selection process. NSW Courts have introduced an audio-visual policy where if matters can be dealt with online and/or through video link then they must be.

It is reported that essential daily items that were once in abundance, like toilet paper, hand sanitiser, bottled water and headache tablets, on super market shelves are now stripped bare due to the panic within our community as a result of the spread of the corona virus.

Sometimes in life, things become so overwhelming whether it be self-induced or due to your current environmental situation in which you have no control over which in turn may impact upon a person to the point in which they act entirely out of character.

The person that was wielding a knife at the supermarket may indeed face some serious criminal charges due to their ‘heat of the moment’ actions and in the event they are charged they will need to go before the Courts to answer for their actions.

It seems that Australians are going to extreme lengths to protect their homes over a virus that is spreading on a daily basis.

While most of the population are taking precautionary measures, it is important to note that there are people who may intentionally spread the disease.

This is an extremely serious offence and the legal system will be very swift and hard on those who commit such an offence. If a person finds themself charged with such an offence, it is absolutely necessary to obtain legal representation.

National Criminal Lawyers® will discuss the process and what are the next steps involved in the Court process when charges have been laid.

WHAT IS THE FIRST STEP IN THE CRIMINAL PROCESS? 

In the cases of the Supermarket assault cases referred to above, the accused may be provided with a Court Attendance Notice (‘CAN’) and likely charged with common assault pursuant to section 61 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

A CAN is a legal document which must be served personally on the accused pursuant to section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (‘The Act’). It must be filed in the registry where the proceedings are to take place in order to begin the criminal process pursuant to section 172 of The Act. Furthermore, pursuant to section 175 of The Act, the CAN must contain the following details:

  1. Description of the alleged offence;
  2. Contain the name of the prosecutor;
  3. Require the accused person to appear before the court at a specified date, time and place, unless a warrant is issued for the arrest of the person or the person is refused bail; and
  4. State, unless a warrant is issued for the arrest of the person or the person is refused bail, that failure to appear may result in the arrest of the person or in the matter being dealt with in the absence of the person.

IS THERE A TIME LIMIT ON STARTING CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS? 

Pursuant to section 179 of The Act, summary proceedings must be commenced within 6 months from when the offences was alleged to have occurred. However, if it relates to the death of a person then the time limit is as follows:

Proceedings for a summary offence that relate to the death of a person that is or has been the subject of a coronial inquest must be commenced—

(a)  not later than 6 months after the conclusion of the inquest, or

(b)  not later than 2 years from when the offence is alleged to have been committed,

whichever occurs first.

WHAT STEPS CAN YOU TAKE IF YOU HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL OFFENCE? 

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is prudent to act quickly and contact National Criminal Lawyers®. In majority of cases, the Court date will come fairly quickly, and it is always best to be prepared. National Criminal Lawyers® is different from any other law firm.

WHAT COULD YOU BE CHARGED WITH IF YOU INTENTIONALLY SPREAD THE VIRUS? 

If a person intentionally spreads the coronavirus, they will be likely to be charged with grievous bodily harm under Section 33 of NSW Crimes Act . Grievous bodily harm in relation to diseases is defined in Section 4 of the Crimes Act 1900 as:

(a) the destruction (other than in the course of a medical procedure or a termination of a pregnancy in accordance with the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 ) of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, and
(b) any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person, and
(c) any grievous bodily disease (in which case a reference to the infliction of grievous bodily harm includes a reference to causing a person to contract a grievous bodily disease).

This offence carries up to 25 years imprisonment.

WHAT MUST THE POLICE PROVE?

This offence requires the following things that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That the offender acted in a way that is likely to cause others to contract the virus;
  • The person charged knew that what they were doing is likely to cause someone to contract the virus;
  • The person charged actually intended for the victim to catch the virus;
  • Someone actually caught the coronavirus specifically from the actions of the person charged; and
  • That the virus caused serious harm to the victim.

The very nature of the virus means that it is easily transmitted through normal everyday events. Much like a cold or a flu, being within a certain distance from someone who has the virus can mean someone might catch it. This does not mean the person with the virus actually wanted the victim to catch the virus. Police must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence occurred where the accused intended for the victim to catch the virus.

We are specialists who prepare your case thoroughly, negotiate with the police to have the charge dropped and proceed to a defendant hearing to ensure justice is done. National Criminal Lawyers® make submissions to persuade the Court on the given day why your charge should be dismissed.

Once your charged is dismissed, National Criminal Lawyers® will immediately make a costs application pursuant to section 212-213 of (The Act) to ensure you walk away with more than just a dismissed charge.

National Criminal Lawyers® will guide you from start to finish in your criminal matter.

WHAT DEFENCES ARE AVAILABLE IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH INTENTIONALLY SPREADING THE VIRUS? 

Some of the possible defences for grievous bodily harm include:

  • Duress – If the person charged was forced to act in a certain manner due to certain circumstances or threats.
  • Necessity – If the actions of the person charged were necessary to prevent greater harm from occurring.
  • Mental capacity – If the accused is diagnosed with certain mental illnesses which prevent normal thinking process and/or were unaware of their actions due to the mental illness.
  • Self defence – Where the accused was defending themselves, another person or property, the accused may be able to argue this defence.

In the event the accused is required to be sentenced, such as entering a plea of guilty, then sentencing factors come into play.

When someone is charged with a criminal offence there are different ways in which the Courts may deal with the offender. The law provides for different sentencing options, which are discussed below.

There is never ‘a one size fits all’ sentence that can be imposed for any criminal offence whether it’s a small matter or in the alternative a large matter.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, pick up the phone and contact our office now.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
CONTACT US! 02 9893 1889

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