Georgia police have been using the “reckless conduct” charge in an increasing number of coronavirus-related incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the era of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and fears of infection, Georgians are facing charges of reckless conduct for coughing on other people, blowing on police officers, and even holding church service.
Previously, we talked about whether you can face criminal charges for infecting other people with coronavirus.
Atlanta Woman Faces Reckless Conduct Charges for Coughing on Other People
A woman in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, is facing charges of reckless conduct for allegedly approaching a family with four children and coughing on them. Police released frames of surveillance videos from Target in an attempt to identify the woman.
According to FOX 5 Atlanta, the unknown woman allegedly coughed on the family, exclaimed “Corona!” and laughed. The woman walked away before the family could confront her or call the police. The incident occurred when the family was exercising outdoors at Atlantic Station.
Georgia Man Charged with Reckless Conduct After Blowing on Police Officer
In a separate incident that took place in Atlanta in April, a Georgia man was charged with felony obstruction and reckless conduct after blowing into a park officer’s face. As reported by WSBTV, the man and some friends were in a restricted area at Tallulah Gorge State Park during Gov. Brian Kemp’s stay-at-home order when a park officer confronted them.
The officer said the group of boaters violated the state’s social distancing rule after gathering in a group of more than 10 people. During the altercation, one of the men blew on the officer and got arrested as a result. He later explained that he was merely trying to prove that he had not been drinking.
Earlier that month, a Georgia pastor and church members in Statesboro were issued citations for reckless conduct for not following the governor’s stay-at-home order, according to 11Alive News.
What is Reckless Conduct During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
As Georgians are being charged with reckless conduct for not following the state’s stay-at-home order and for endangering the public, many are wondering what the charge of reckless conduct actually means.
Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-60, you can be charged with the crime of reckless conduct in Georgia if your case meets the following criteria:
- You caused bodily harm or endangered the safety of another individual;
- The infliction of bodily harm or endangerment was caused by your conscious disregard of the “unjustifiable” risk that your act or omission would cause harm; and
- The disregard is “a gross deviation from the standard of care” that any reasonable and prudent person would exercise in this situation.
In Georgia, reckless conduct is classified as a misdemeanor in the majority of criminal cases. However, in order to charge someone with reckless conduct, the state prosecutor must show that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The court examines a number of factors when determining whether the accused acted with “conscious disregard” for the safety of the alleged victim. These factors include:
- The nature of the crime;
- The circumstances surrounding the incident;
- The defendant’s state of mind at the time of the incident; and
- The accused’s age and mental capacities.
If you were charged with reckless conduct during the coronavirus pandemic, reach out to our criminal defense lawyers, Musa Ghanayem and Ravi Rayasam, to build a strong defense strategy. Contact Ghanayem & Rayasam, LLC, for a case evaluation. Call at (404) 561-0202 right now.