When Transmission of HIV Amounts to a Crime in TexasPublished: Feb 23, 2016 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
If you’re living with HIV, you already have plenty to worry about without thinking of possible criminal charges. But many states have enacted laws that require individuals who test positive for HIV to report their status to the state as well as their current and previous sexual or needle-sharing partners. Some states through laws or court rulings even equate HIV and AIDS to a weapon.
Informing your sexual or needle-sharing partners of your HIV status is the right thing to do, but it may also be the only way to avoid criminal prosecution.
Texas Law Regarding HIV Transmission
If a person with HIV or AIDS exposes another individual without previously stating his or her positive status, that person can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon under the Texas penal code. Under the law, anything can be a deadly weapon if it can be used to cause serious harm or death. You may be charged with this crime even if you engaged in consensual sex with the person.
If a person who knows he or she has HIV or AIDS exposes another person without informing that individual of his or her positive status and had the intent to infect that individual, he or she can be charged with attempted murder. This can also occur despite consensual sex.
HIV isn’t the only disease Texas views as a potential weapon. Anyone who gives a sexually transmitted disease, like syphilis or hepatitis, to another person without having notified them of the possibility of transmission can be charged with assault. This is because it fits the legal definition of one person causing bodily injury to another.
Potential Consequences for Criminal Transmission
The punishments upon conviction vary depending on the specific charge. In general, an assault conviction is punishable by a fine up to $4,000 and 1 year in prison. Someone convicted of assault with a deadly weapon may be sentenced to prison anywhere from 2 years to 20 years and fined up to $10,000. Someone convicted of attempted murder can be sentenced to prison for 2 years to 99 years and fined up to $10,000.
Having a skilled Houston criminal defense attorney by your side may help you receive a more lenient punishment if convicted, including a lower fine, fewer years in prison, or probation. A good lawyer also may be able to get your charge dismissed or secure a not guilty verdict through the crafting of a strong defense strategy.
Informing Your Partners
The smartest and safest way to move forward after testing positive for HIV is to inform your current and previous sexual and needle-sharing partners. To help you do this, Texas law created partner services, which are offered to everyone with HIV, AIDS, or an STD. While you can tell your partners yourself, this service will anonymously inform these individuals of the possibility of transmission and give them information about being tested.
How an Experienced Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
No matter the controversy, people with HIV must tell their partners and follow their state laws or risk being charged with a crime. If you’ve been charged with a crime due to transmitting the disease, you need to work with an experienced and fierce criminal law attorney to reduce the charge or prove your innocence.
Given his previous experience as a prosecutor, Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett knows every side of the law and can build you a strong defense. He’ll be an aggressive advocate for your rights in court. Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to receive a free consultation today.