General Question

Facade's avatar

Can a person who knowingly infects other people with AIDS be charged with assult, manslaughter, or murder?

Asked by Facade (22902points) July 14th, 2009
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6 Answers

fireinthepriory's avatar

I believe they can be, I think it’s been done in the past… I’d have to look it up to know what they were charged with.

Or else that was a Law and Order episode I saw… Damn that show for “ripping from the headlines!”

casheroo's avatar

I believe it’s actually “reckless endangerment” but I could be wrong.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes. They can. I believe in some places that person has to die within a certain time frame and, of course, the death must be HIV related.

Darwin's avatar

Yes. They have done so in Texas. In Weeks vs State, Weeks was an HIV positive prisoner who deliberately spit on a guard. He was convicted of attempted murder even though the guard did not become HIV positive. The intent was there.

There was also a case in Texas where an adult male who was HIV positive, knowingly had unprotected sex with underage boys. He was convicted of deliberate transmission, but I don’t recall the precise charge.

This site gives a list of court cases world wide, and summarizes US state laws as follows:

“United States

As of 2008, 36 states in America criminalized the transmission or exposure of HIV, with many having laws specifically mentioning HIV. Some states punish those convicted of offences such as prostitution or rape more severely if the person knows they have HIV. Spitting or emitting HIV-infected bodily fluids at another person while in prison is also an offence in some states. A sample of the laws are below:28

Alabama – Engaging in activities likely to transmit an STD is a class C misdemeanour.
California – Engaging in uninformed, unprotected sexual activity (exception for consent) with the intent to infect the other person is a felony punishable by up to 8 years in prison.
Colorado – Committing or soliciting prostitution with knowledge of being HIV positive are class 5 and 6 felonies.
Florida – Unlawful for person with HIV, with knowledge both of their infection and risk of sexual transmission, to have sex without disclosure and consent having taken place.
Michigan – It is a felony to engage in sexual penetration, however slight and regardless of whether semen has been emitted, without informing the other of his/her HIV status.
Missouri – It is a class B felony to expose person to HIV if defendant knowingly acted in a reckless manner without knowledge and consent through oral, anal or vaginal sex. If complainant becomes infected, the charge is a class A felony. The use of a condom is not a defense.
New York – The applicable part of the law is reckless endangerment in the first degree for engaging in ‘conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person’.
Pennsylvania – The state Superior Court ruled in a 2006 case involving oral sex that HIV-positive people who do not disclose their status to their sexual partners can be charged with reckless endangerment. It follows that any kind of unprotected sex without disclosure could be prosecuted.
Texas – HIV transmission cases have been brought to court under aggravated assault laws whereby a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly… uses or exhibits a deadly weapon as part of an assault”. ”

Kayak8's avatar

Just a point of clarification . . . one could not infect another with AIDS, but could infect another with HIV. AIDS describes a particular stage of HIV disease.

In Ohio it is a 4th degree felony to fail to tell your sexual partner that you have HIV.

The reasons for drafting these laws are clear (experiences in Jamestown NY with Nushawn Williams and others). The case cited above was the first case in Idaho, but wasn’t the first case.

There are several problems with some of these laws. For example, as noted above, several HIV+ people have been sent to prison for spitting (which doesn’t transmit the virus unless there is significant quantities of blood in the saliva).

The biggest thing with most of these laws is that you have to KNOW you are positive for it to be criminal in most states. As a result, one might imagine the chilling effect some of these laws have had on HIV testing rates.

These types of laws also build a false sense of security. It is my responsibility to make sure that I don’t engage in behaviors that will put ME at risk. If there is a law that says a positive person has to tell me, then I can rationalize my way into all sorts of unsafe behaviors (well, he didn’t tell me).

There have been a handful of predators who happen to have HIV. It makes big news and makes people codify poorly conceived laws. “Let’s make a rule to address the rare exception” kind of thing. The overwhelming number of folks with HIV would not DREAM of putting someone else in the situation in which they find themselves.

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