Hypothetical Danger and Crime Against the Public Health Under the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Chilean Supreme Court’s Rulings in the Light of Ángel Torío's Seminal Work

Abstract: The paper places in a broad doctrinal context the Chilean Supreme Court’s important rulings on art. 318 of the Penal Code (the most widely used and debated criminal figure in the context of what could very well be referred to as the "Chilean criminal battle" against the Covid-19 pandemic. Those rulings had the indisputable virtue of ruling out the criminal nature of cases of mere infringement of the curfew. In doing so, the Supreme Court made recourse to the doctrinal notions of hypothetical danger and abstract-concrete danger. The paper focuses on these concepts, cross-checking them with foreign and Chilean doctrinal sources (particularly looking into the work of the Spaniard Ángel Torío, who first came up with the notion of hypothetical danger). The paper closes by critically examining the criminalization of unauthorized crowd gatherings, a hypothesis whose criminalization under art. 318 CP was explored in obiter dicta by the aforementioned jurisprudence.

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The article is published in the issue 3/2021 of Diritto penale contemporaneo - Rivista Trimestrale.