Transmitting an STD in Nevada

In Nevada, it is a crime to expose another to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or to another sexually transmitted disease (STD).

In Nevada, it is a crime to expose another to the human immunodeficiency virus  (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or to another sexually transmitted disease (STD).

For more information on the criminal transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, see  Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

While some state laws provide a list of diseases that are considered STDs, Nevada’s laws do not. Instead, in Nevada, there is a law that deals with all communicable (contagious) diseases, including STDs. Common STDs include herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and hepatitis. Nevada also has several laws that deal specifically with HIV.

Exposing Another to a Contagious Disease

In Nevada, a person who is infected with any contagious disease in an infectious state (including an STD) should not engage in conduct that is likely to expose others to the disease.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 441A.180.)

Although Nevada’s laws do not provide a list of prohibited activities, exposure to STDs (or HIV) is most likely to occur through sexual contact, particularly unprotected sexual contact, and needle sharing.

For example, people who knew that they are experiencing herpes outbreaks and engage in unprotected sex would be exposing others to a contagious disease.

Exposing Another to HIV

It is also crime in Nevada for a person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV to intentionally, knowingly, or willfully engage in conduct that is intended to or likely to transmit HIV to another person.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 201.205.)

Intentionally, knowingly, or willfully

People act intentionally when they act with a particular goal. People act willfully when they are purposeful, and knowingly when they have an understanding of their behavior or the consequences of their behavior. For example, someone who engages in unprotected sexual contact with the goal of exposing a partner to HIV has acted intentionally. Someone who does not intend to expose another person to HIV, but nonetheless shares IV needles, and knows that sharing needles can transmit HIV, has acted knowingly or willfully.

Knowledge of infection

Under Nevada’s laws, people who do not know that they are infected with HIV are not guilty of a crime. Only people who test positive for HIV in a test approved by the State Board of Health, and who receive actual notice of the positive test, can be criminally prosecuted.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 201.205.)

Prostitution

In Nevada, it is a crime for a person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV to:

  • engage in prostitution (sexual relations in exchange for money or something of value)
  • solicit a prostitute, or
  • work in a licensed house of prostitution.

Prostitutes are considered to know of the infection after testing positive for HIV in a test approved by the State Board of Health and receiving actual notice of the result  or  if the results of the test are mailed to them.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 201.356, 201.358.)

Confinement

A person who has been diagnosed with AIDS may be confined (quarantined or isolated by the public health department) if he or she:

  • engages in behavior that is likely to spread the disease, or
  • fails to comply with a written order from a public health official.

A judge must order the confinement.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § 441A.300.)

Defenses

In Nevada, it is a defense to the charge of exposing another to HIV if the victim knows that the defendant is infected with HIV, knows that the conduct could result in exposure, and consents to the conduct.

This defense does not apply in cases of prostitution. It is not clear whether this defense applies to the exposure to other STDs.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 201.205, 201.358.)

Generally, condom use is not a defense to the charge of exposing another to an STD.

Punishment

Exposing another to HIV and exposing another to HIV through prostitution are punishable by two to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

If a public health official believes that a person is exposing others to another STD, the official must first give the person a written warning. If the person continues to expose others, it is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

(Nev. Rev. Stat. § § 193.150, 201.205, 201.358, 441A.180.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

Being charged with exposing another person to HIV or another STD can result in a time in jail or prison, a fine, confinement, and a criminal record. If you are charged with criminal exposure, you should contact a Nevada criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court, depending on the facts and the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case. An attorney can help you navigate the justice system and obtain the best outcome in your case.

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