Romania: Possible amendment of the Romanian Criminal Code due to the pandemic situation created by the new Coronavirus
Considering the evolution of the pandemic situation created by the new Coronavirus in Romania, a government emergency ordinance regarding amendment of the Criminal Code was approved at a government meeting on 18 March 2020. The envisaged modifications regard the following:
1) New circumstances which constitute an aggravated offence in case of false statements
Section 326 of the Criminal Code is to be supplemented by an additional subsection (2), according to which committing the offence of false statements in order to hide the existence of a risk of infection with a contagious disease is punishable by imprisonment of one to five years or a criminal fine.
If this provision enters into force in the wording mentioned above, it would allow for more severe criminal punishment for persons who make false statements as provided in Art. 326 of the Criminal Code or withhold information regarding infection with the new coronavirus.
2) Harsher punishment for persons who hinder efforts to fight diseases and new circumstances which constitute an aggravated offence
According to the draft government emergency ordinance, the current punishment for the offence regulated by section 352 of the Criminal Code is to be increased from six months’ to two years’ imprisonment or a criminal fine to one to five years’ imprisonment, without the option of a criminal fine.
Moreover, several circumstances constituting an aggravated offence are to be added:
- Noncompliance with imposed quarantine or hospitalization measures, which will be punishable by imprisonment of six months to three years or a criminal fine. This aggravated offence will basically include all situations in which quarantine or hospitalization measures imposed by the authorities are ignored, regardless of whether the noncompliant party was previously diagnosed with the new coronavirus or if this noncompliance led to other people being infected;
- Transmitting a contagious disease by any means, by a person who knows he/she has been diagnosed with this disease. This is an aggravated circumstance that will apply when a person diagnosed with COVID-19 (and who is aware of this diagnosis) intentionally transmits the disease to another person, regardless of whether quarantine or isolation measures have been imposed by the authorities. Even an attempt to commit this aggravated offence is to be punishable.
- Aggravating circumstances apply when the abovementioned offences has resulted in bodily harm to or the death of one or more persons. If the abovementioned offences result in the deaths of more than three people, the punishment is severe, up to 15 years of imprisonment.
3) A new offence under section 352¹: withholding information
This new offence refers to a person’s failure to declare to doctors, medical units or authorities that he/she may have been in contact with persons infected with COVID-19. It is to be punishable by imprisonment of from six months to three years or a criminal fine.
We will wait for this draft emergency ordinance to be published in the Official Gazette and report again with a more detailed analysis of the new regulations once they enter into force.