Criminal Liability for Quarantine Breakers? Critical Review of Articles 318 And 318 bis of the Chilean Penal Code (New Law No. 21.240): More Micro Than Macro...

The discussion regarding the criminal status of conduct in violation of curfew and quarantine under Covid-19 has turned heated in Chile. The Public Prosecutor's Office and the Public Defender's Office have maintained conflicting theses and the matter has ended up being of concern to Congress, who recently passed a law to "settle" the discussion (law no. 21,240 of June 20). The author offers herein a summary of the debate, critically reviews the substantive contents of the new law and offers specific proposals on how to interpret it (with case outlines). At the same time, the contribution sheds light on the functional value of the old and “denigrated” art. 318 of the Chilean Penal Code. In two words: the legislator undertakes a narrow perspective of the matter (the one focused on the citizens' conduct), rather than addressing the problem in its institutional dimension.

SUMMARY: 1. La lucha contra la epidemia: polarización e incertidumbre en torno al art. 318 CP. – 2. El derecho positivo y la nueva ley no 21.240: modificaciones al art. 318 y nuevos arts. 318 bis y ter. – 3. Valoración global. Intentando poner algo de orden. – 4. Ahora sí: una valoración articulada del subconjunto 318-318 bis. – 5. Conclusiones y concreta propuesta de cobertura para los arts. 318 y 318 bis.

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