COVID-19 Exposure During and After Arrest Can Be a Unique Criminal Defense Strategy

Posted by Posted on in Criminal Law

DuPage County criminal defense attorneyIf you are apprehended by law enforcement for any criminal charges, including DUI, drug charges, assault, Internet sex crimes, or a wide variety of other criminal offenses, there are myriad ways that a police officer could fail to follow proper procedures during and after your arrest that could be used against the prosecution if your case goes to trial. Anything from use of excessive force to neglecting to read you your rights or corrupting the evidence collected at the scene, be it unintentionally or otherwise. However, in this age of the COVID-19 pandemic, even with the first round of vaccines already being rolled out, there is an increased likelihood of the police making some mistakes that could infect you with the COVID-19 virus. If that is the circumstance, you might get the case dismissed or you could win the case on that single technicality. Here is an overview of the potential in using coronavirus exposure as a unique criminal defense strategy for this unprecedented time in history.

Law Enforcement Procedures in Place to Cope with COVID-19 in Illinois

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the federal level and state health authorities, as well as city-wide governments throughout Illinois at the local level, have issued directives and guidance for law enforcement concerning properly handling arrests and jailing or imprisonment during the pandemic. Among the major changes in police officer behaviors and procedures due to COVID-19 are:

  • The same advice given to civilians. Officers must maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands/sanitizing yourself, do not touch your face, wear personal protective equipment (PPE like masks) whenever possible, and keep your distance at six feet whenever possible (within reason in the case of officers, provided it does not interfere with proper arrest and booking procedures).
  • If COVID-19 exposure or infection is suspected, the police should notify the EMS so they can evaluate anyone who exhibits symptoms and take them to a healthcare facility for initial care.
  • Disinfect belts, gear, and equipment regularly, especially if exposure is suspected.
  • For jailing, if the alleged offender is exhibiting COVID symptoms or claims to have COVID, the officer must attempt to separate them from the other people in jail or working in the jail as often as possible, even if that means giving them their own cell whenever possible until the alleged offender can get tested for the virus.

If you suspect or witness the police blatantly or deliberately—possibly even maliciously—not following such safety guidelines, your experienced lawyer might be able to use that during his arguments in court.

How COVID-19 Exposure Could Complicate Your Case for the Prosecution

Essentially, not following safety guidelines for COVID-19 as a police officer is just like failing to follow the usual protocols of arresting and booking procedures. However, there is certainly a gray area that makes it difficult to argue against the police in these cases since often it can be subjective. In addition, many of the guidelines and directives are just that—guidelines and directives. They are new to the police departments, and there are very few precedents surrounding not following them. Despite this fact, a knowledgeable lawyer can argue these points and convince a jury that not following COVID-19 procedures as an officer of the law is most certainly akin to not following other appropriate policing procedures.

Contact a Wheaton IL Criminal Law Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges and felt like the arresting officer(s) put your life and health in danger by neglecting to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, you should tell an experienced DuPage County criminal defense lawyer immediately, as this can help with their defense strategy for you. Contacting Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, is the right choice for this since he has experience from multiple sides of the law and understands which defense strategies are most effective. Call Stephen A. Brundage today at 630-260-9647 for a free consultation to learn more about what he can do for you.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-law-enforcement.html

http://directives.chicagopolice.org/directives/data/a7a57b85-17010e90-34c17-0119-53d7e59ce28d23f4.html

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/86039