COVID-19: Criminal offences
Creating false belief of COVID-19
If you tell anyone that you have COVID-19 when this is not true, you can be charged with “creating a false belief”. The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment (12 months imprisonment and $12,000 fine if dealt with in the Magistrates Court).
Breach of VRO or FVRO
Parliament has increased the maximum penalty for breaches of violence restraining orders or family violence restraining orders to a $10,000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.
Assault and threats against public officers
These are new offence specifically relating to COVID-19.
If you are found guilty of assaulting a public officer, such as a doctor, nurse, police officer, paramedic or prison officer, in circumstances where you know you have COVID-19 or you create a belief, suspicion or fear that you have COVID-19 (for example, by saying that you have COVID-19), you could face up to 10 years imprisonment. “Assault” includes spitting or coughing on someone.
If you are found guilty of threatening to injure, endanger or harm a public officer by exposing them to COVID-19, you could face up to 7 years imprisonment.
Breach of emergency management Directions
It is also an offence to fail to comply with the COVID-19 emergency management Directions issued by the WA Government in relation to testing, isolation, gatherings, activities, access to places and travel.
The maximum penalty if you are dealt with by a court is 12 months imprisonment and a fine of $50,000. However, police may instead issue you with an infringement notice to pay $1,000. If you dispute the infringement it must be dealt with in court. The penalty for a corporation is higher - a fine of up to $250,000 may be imposed by a court and police may issue an infringement of $5,000.
For more information about current Directions in place see:
- Testing, isolation and close contact rules
- Prohibited gatherings and activities
- Travel restrictions
- G2GPASS – Digital Travel App
If you are in quarantine and have been directed by an authorised officer to wear an electronic monitoring device, or to permit one to be installed in your home, and you fail to do so, you can be punished with up to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of $12,000. The same penalty applies if you remove or interfere with such a device.
If you need help with your legal problem you can contact Legal Aid WA through our Infoline or use our web Infochat service.
If you are charged and attending court, the Legal Aid WA Criminal Law Duty Lawyer Service can assist you.
Reviewed: 6 April 2022