Transmitting an STD in Wyoming
In Wyoming, people who know that they are infected with HIV or another sexually transmitted disease (STD) and expose others to the disease can be convicted of a crime.
For more information on the criminal transmission of STDs in general, see Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
In Wyoming, the state health department maintains an annual list of reportable, contagious diseases. Under Wyoming’s laws, the list is supposed to include all diseases that are spread through sexual contact.
(Wyo. Stat. § 35-4-130.)
The current list includes the following STDs (also called venereal diseases):
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and
Exposing Others to a Contagious Disease
It is a misdemeanor for people who know that they are infected with any contagious disease, including an STD, to engage in any behavior that tends to spread the disease.
(Wyo. Stat. § 35-4-109.)
Exposure to STDs is most likely to occur through sexual contact, particularly unprotected sexual contact, and needle sharing.
For example, a person who knows that he or she is infected with chlamydia and has unprotected sex could be charged with exposing others to a contagious disease.
Treatment and Quarantine
Under Wyoming’s laws, any person who is infected with an STD may be isolated by the health department or required to seek treatment.
(Wyo. Stat. § 35-4-133.)
Other Criminal Charges
In many states, a person who knows that he or she has HIV or another STD and intentionally exposes or infects others can also be charged with assault, or even attempted murder. In Wyoming, a person who causes or attempts to cause bodily injury, serious bodily injury, or death can be charged with battery, aggravated assault, or attempted murder.
Wyoming prosecutors could conclude that people who know that they are infected with HIV or other STDs and engage in conduct that exposes others to the disease – such as unprotected sex, sexual assault, or even biting -- have caused (or attempted to cause) these sorts of injuries.
Generally, people who do not know that they have an STD cannot be charged with criminal exposure.
In most states, condom use is not a defense to the charge of exposing another to an STD. However, a person who practices safe sex may be able to claim that he or she is not tending to spread disease under Wyoming’s law.
Exposing others to a contagious disease is punishable by six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. The defendant can also be sued by the victim and may be required to pay damages, as well as compensate the victim for any expenses incurred as a result of the illness.
Failing to comply with treatment or quarantine that has been ordered by the health department is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
Battery is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750. Aggravated assault is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
(Wyo. Stat. §§ 35-4-109, 35-4-110, 35-4-130.)
Getting Legal Advice and Representation
If you are charged with exposing others to a contagious disease or any other crime because you have an STD, you should contact a Wyoming criminal defense attorney. An attorney can guide you through the legal process and advocate for you in court. With an attorney’s help, you can hopefully achieve the best outcome in your case.