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Knowingly Exposing a Sexual Partner to HIV is a Crime in California

Posted on in Criminal Defense

HIV exposure laws, San Jose sex crime lawyers, sexual partner, Senate Bill 239 California, misdemeanorDuring the AIDS epidemic of the 1990s, California, along with most other states, passed legislation making it a crime for an individual living with HIV to knowing expose a sexual partner to the disease without disclosing his or her HIV-positive status. Individuals in California who violated this law could be found guilty of a felony offense and sentenced to serve up to eight years in prison (or longer if the individual was a sex worker). While this law had been on the books in California for decades, it recently underwent a substantial rewrite thanks to Senate Bill 239 which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law just last month.

Senate Bill 239

CNBC.com reports that upon enacting Senate Bill 239, California became the fourth state to rewrite an HIV exposure law left over from the 90s. Under California’s new bill, knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV is still a crime but it is now a misdemeanor rather than a felony offense. Moreover, violators can only be sentenced to serve up to six months in county jail.

Additionally, the new law is no longer HIV-specific but instead makes it illegal to knowingly expose a sexual partner to any other infectious communicable diseases as well. In this context, an “infectious or communicable disease” is defined as any disease that “spreads from person to person, directly or indirectly, that has significant public health implications.”

The Pros and Cons of HIV Exposure Laws

Ever since HIV exposure laws became in vogue in the 1990s, there has been heated debate over whether or not these laws are appropriate. Those in support of stringent HIV exposure laws with harsh penalties routinely argue that knowingly exposing another to HIV without his or her knowledge is akin to a sexual assault and should be punished accordingly. However, others argue that singling out HIV carriers, as opposed to those plagued by other infectious or communicable diseases, is inappropriate and further perpetuates an unwarranted stigma.

HIV Exposure Laws in Other States

According to CNBC.com, many states are hesitant to change the HIV exposure laws that they adopted on the 90s. They also note that the following HIV exposure laws are currently in effect:

  • New Jersey: HIV carrying individuals convicted of failing to disclose their HIV status before having sex are generally sentenced to serve at least two years in prison.
  • Louisiana: Violating the state’s HIV exposure law carries penalties equivalent to that of a felony offense.
  • Tennessee: Individuals with HIV who knowingly expose others can be “quarantined” by the Department of Health under some circumstances if the individual is determined to be a threat to the public.

Contact Us for Help Today

If you have been accused of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to an infectious or communicable disease in Northern California the experienced San Jose sex crime lawyers of Jachimowicz Law Group are here to help. We do not judge, we get results. To find out what our firm can do for you contact our office today and set up a free initial consultation.








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