Transmitting an STD in Ohio
In Ohio, people who know that they are infected with HIV/AIDS and engage in sexual conduct or bite or spit on people can be charged with criminal exposure, assault with a dangerous weapon, or even attempted murder. People who know they are infected with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) could also be charged with assault.
For more information on the criminal transmission of STDs, see Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.
Criminal Exposure to HIV – Felony Assault
Under Ohio’s laws, people commit the crime of felony assault if they know that they are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and:
- engage in sexual conduct without first telling their partner of the infection, or
- engage in sexual conduct with anyone who is under the age of 18 and not the defendant’s spouse, or anyone who lacks the mental capacity to appreciate the risk of exposure to HIV.
Sexual conduct includes vaginal and anal intercourse, oral sex, and the insertion of anything into the vagina or anus that carries the defendant’s bodily fluids.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2901.11(B), 2907.01.)
Transmitting Diseases Other Than HIV/AIDS
Although Ohio’s transmission statutes concern only HIV/AIDS, people who transmit other sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, herpes, syphilis, or hepatitis may be charged under Ohio’s assault statute.
In Ohio, a person commits the crime of assault by causing or attempting to cause injury to another. (Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.11, 2903.12, 2903.13.) Prosecutors in Ohio may conclude that defendants who know they have an STD and intentionally engage in conduct that results in infection have inflicted (or attempted to inflict) injury and are guilty of assault.
Assault With a Dangerous Weapon
A person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS intentionally exposes another person to the disease may also be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon. Any object or substance that could be used to kill someone, including a virus or bacteria, can be a dangerous weapon in Ohio.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.11, 2923.11.)
For example, a person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV and sexually assaults another person may be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
In 2005, a man who was infected with HIV and was a hemophiliac was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon after he spat on and bit a police officer. The court reasoned that defendant’s spit was a deadly weapon because it was likely infected with HIV (due to his hemophilia).
(State v. Price, 834 N.E. 2d 847 (Ohio Ct. App. 2005).)
If a person knows that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS (or another STD that could cause death) and exposes another (through, for example, sexual assault or unprotected sex) in order to intentionally infect the victim with the disease, the person could also conceivably be charged with attempted murder.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2903.02, 2901.11, 2923.02.)
Under Ohio’s laws, the crimes of prostitution (sexual relations in exchange for money or something of value), soliciting prostitution, and loitering for the purpose of prostitution are punished more severely if the defendant knows that he or she is infected with HIV.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2907.24, 2907.241, 2907.25.)
Harassment with a Bodily Substance
Laws against causing another to come into contact with bodily fluids were originally intended to protect prison guards from prisoners who spat on them (or worse).
In Ohio, the it is also a crime for people who know that they are infected with HIV, hepatitis, or tuberculosis to cause (or attempt to cause) another person to come into contact with bodily fluids or bodily waste, such as blood, semen, urine, or feces, with intent to harass or annoy. The law does not apply to people who are institutionalized in facilities operated by the department of mental health or the department of developmental disabilities.
(Ohio Rev. Code § 2921.38.)
For example, if a person is infected with hepatitis B and knows it, and spits on someone, that could be considered harassment.
Donating Contaminated Blood
It is also a crime in Ohio for a people who know that they are infected with HIV to donate or sell blood, plasma, or blood products intended for transfusion.
(Ohio Rev. Code § 2927.13.)
Exposing another to HIV and assault with a deadly weapon are punishable by two to eight years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $15,000.
Attempted murder is punishable by three to eleven years’ imprisonment, and fine of up to $20,000.
Harassment with a bodily substance and prostitution after testing positive for HIV are punishable by nine to 36 months’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $10,000.
Soliciting prostitution after testing positive for HIV is also punishable by nine to 36 months’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant used a vehicle, the defendant’s license can also be suspended for six months.
Donating contaminated blood is punishable by six months in jail to 18 months in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000.
Loitering after testing positive for HIV is punishable by six to twelve months in jail, and a fine of up to $2,500.
Assault is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
These sentences are effective as of September 28, 2012.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2901.11, 2907.24, 2907.241, 2907.25, 2921.38, 2923.02, 2927.13, 2929.14, 2929.18, 2929.24, 2929.28.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
In Ohio, exposing another person to an STD can have serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, as well as a fine and a serious criminal record. If you are charged with criminal exposure, assault, attempted murder, or any other crime because you are infected with HIV/AIDS or another STD you should contact a criminal defense attorney. An attorney will be able to navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best outcome in your case.