Police arrested a man named Reiland in Guiones, Nosara, yesterday. The man was resisting leaving the beach and beat a policeman, confirmed the head of the Public Force of this coastal district, José Ángel Gómez.
The Government announced the closure of all the country’s beaches on Tuesday, March 24 as a sanitary measure in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, and the Public Force has the authority to ask anyone to leave the beach. The man was arrested not for being on the beach but for contempt and assault on the official.
“The detainee pounced on the police quad, saying that he had the right to be there,” said Gómez.
According to the police chief, Reiland is an American who lives in the coastal district but does not have regular immigration status. Police arrested him and transferred him to the Flagrancia Prosecutor’s Office in Santa Cruz.
Read also: Muni de Nicoya and Sinac confirm closure of Guiones, Garza, Pelada, Sámara and Ostional beaches
The Prosecutor’s Office confirmed today that the case is processed within the file 20-000179-1260-PE and that the initial hearing was held yesterday before the local Flagrante Court. Reiland was released without precautionary measures, but he must attend a follow-up hearing in which the sentence he will have to serve will be decided.
“Reiland was released, without precautionary measures, because he has the required procedural roots (labor, home and family). Now Court will indicate the date in which the continuation hearing will be held,” the Prosecutor’s Office clarified by email.
Article 304 of the Penal Code rules that the crime of resistance to authority is punishable by one month to three years in prison.
Although the government ordered beaches closed on March 24, the Municipality of Nicoya and Sinac (National System of Conservation Areas) made the decision to close all beaches in the canton of Nicoya on March 19.
Nevertheless, Gomez stated that many people still come to the beaches of Nosara. “They have made the work quite complicated for us. Our day-to-day work is to go around warning that it is forbidden to be there and that they have to leave,” he lamented.
Can you go to jail for going to the beach?
The journalist from Nicoya City, César Blanco, affirms that neither the city nor the Public Force have the authorization to arrest anyone for not complying with the government regulations on beaches. However, it is possible to prosecute someone criminally for disrespecting authority or for responding violently.
Gomez agrees. The protocol sent by the Public Ministry is to warn visitors that the government and the Municipality have closed all the beaches in the country, therefore no one is authorized to stay on them.
“First we sound the sirens and we draw their attention verbally. If we see that they are not leaving, we get closer and we tell them again that they should leave. People may get violent and that’s where we proceed,” he says.
This is the first case of contempt of authority within beaches in the country in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. Gomez stated that agents will continue to haunt all the beaches in the district. “The recommendation is not to leave the house, they have to obey,” the official insisted.