People Now Must Behave Better
Almost since colonial days it had been a custom of most Costa Ricans to do as they pleased, even if their behaviour bothered or hurt others. As of November 10th 2002, Law No. 8250 reformed the existing Penal Code so that what had always been considered simple misdemeanours or misdeeds are now felonies meriting jail sentences.
The reforms won the applause of the citizenry but started the court judges worrying about how they would handle such a large work load. And the government on how it would build new jails with its very limited funds. Fortunately, judges were given the option of putting fines or demanding that free public service be done as a substitute of punishment for lesser felonies rather than giving jail sentences. Following is part of a long list of the misdeeds that are now felonies:
1) Touching a woman's buttocks while in a crowd.
2) Making false calls to or molesting the police, Red Cross or firemen.
3) Allowing the contamination of the environment through faulty and loud noise-producing vehicle muffles.
4) Mal-treating an animal or allowing it to bite or harm a person or personal property.
5) Permitting the sale of liquor or cigarettes to minors by bar owners.
6) Blockading or obstructing transit on public roads and highways as in a strike or march against something.
7) Discolouring or writing obscene messages and other graffito on public property.
8) Letting an insane person out of the house without supervision.
9) Carrying prohibited arms and weapons.
10) Not registering a birth or death.
11) Executing an illegal wedding.
12) Incitation to hatred in the press or publicly.
13) Loud and boisterous meetings or indoor family fighting.
14) Divulging documents and secrets which affect the National Security.
15) Interpreting dreams.