Is Coughing In Your Face a Crime During Coronavirus?

(WSVN) - A man walked up to a customer at a store and coughed in his face, twice! It’s obviously rude, but is it a crime to intentionally cough in someone’s face during the coronavirus? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Sandra is a physician, and she knows, when it comes to the coronavirus, everyone should be careful.

Sandra Franco: “My father is about 72, 73 years old, and the few times he’s gone out, he does the social distancing because if I go visit, and they are not following CDC guidelines, then I would have to quarantine, too. That would affect my patients, and so it’s a huge circle.”

Juan went to the store at the end of May with another daughter. They were both wearing masks.

Sandra Franco: “They were minding their own business trying to gather some stuff when a young individual approached my father.”

The man didn’t have a mask on, and he targeted Juan.

Sandra Franco: “Coughed in his face so much so that my father can feel the heat of his breath on him.”

Juan told Sandra the man then backed up a few steps, but he wasn’t finished.

Sandra Franco: “And then decided to come back and do it maliciously for a second time, and my dad was like, ‘Listen, what are you doing?’ And then, he laughed in his face.”

Sandra’s sister then tried to help her father.

Sandra Franco: “She was not happy. She was very upset. She said, ‘Listen, what are you doing?’ And he basically laughed in his face, and it was kind of a joke. It was funny to him.”

The man took off. Juan rushed out of the store.

Sandra Franco: “He said he just went home and scrubbed his face. He changed his clothes. He was like, ‘I just felt so, so gross,’ and he had to self-quarantine.”

Sandra and the rest of her family now cannot visit with their father.

He is quarantined in case theman who coughed on him has the coronavirus.

Sandra Franco: “I was very angry, to be honest with you, that someone would have such a dark soul to do that.”

Well, Howard, how does the law view someone coughing in your face?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “It’s a crime. If someone intentionally coughs on you like this person did to Juan, and they don’t have the coronavirus, they should be arrested and charged with a misdemenaor. Now, if they tell you they have the virus, or they do have it and cough on you, that’s a serious felony.”

After Juan got home, he called Miramar Police.

They sent a statement to us saying, “The safety and wellbeing of our community is of the utmost importance. We are investigating Mr. Franco’s claims and are awaiting video from Home Depot to see if we can identify the suspects.”

Howard Finkelstein: “If this happens to you, it’s no different than if someone hit you in the face with a bat. Call the police right away, and the punishment for the criminal with the virus, or even pretending to have the coronavirus, could be decades in prison.”

Sandra Franco: “From the moment I contacted Help Me Howard, they have been amazing.”

And good news for Sandra and her family — so far, Juan has no symptoms of the coronavirus as they wait for his quarantine to end, and the police to finish their work.

Sandra Franco: “I hope the police find who did this, and in this case, we would just like an apology from the person that approached my father.”

The law that allows police to charge someone for intentionally coughing in another person’s face considers the cough a biological weapon if you have the virus, and if you are doing it as a joke, it can still cost you a lot.

You get arrested. You have to pay to bond out, hire a lawyer, see your face on TV. You won’t be laughing after all that.

Hit with a problem that’s not funny? Tired of it infecting your attitude? See if we can unmask a cure because your headache is nothing to sneeze about.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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