Transmitting an STD in Florida

The state of Florida has several laws that criminalize certain conduct engaged in by people who have sexually transmitted diseases. Florida’s criminal STD laws are, when compared to other states, rather broad. If you engage in sexual activity in Florida knowing that you have a venereal or sexually transmitted disease, you could be charged with a crime.

For more general information about how states view the criminal transmission of sexual transmitted diseases, you can read Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Covered Under Florida Law

Florida’s laws on the criminal transmission of sexually transmitted diseases apply to anyone infected with specific diseases. The specific diseases include: hancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, genital herpes simplex, chlamydia, nongonococcal urethritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, acute salpingitis, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV or AIDS.

Florida STD Crimes

There are several Florida criminal laws that criminalize specific types of conduct engaged in by people with one of the aforementioned sexually transmitted diseases. It’s important to note that these crimes do not require that a person with a sexually transmitted disease actually infect someone else. Engaging in the prohibited activity, even if that activity does not lead to the transmission of a disease, is enough to commit a crime.

Sexual intercourse

Any person who knows that he or she is infected with a sexually transmitted disease and who engages in sexual intercourse with someone else commits the crime of unlawful acts in Florida. If you have sexual intercourse knowing you are infected with HIV you commit a first-degree felony offense. If you are infected with any other sexually transmitted disease and engage in intercourse you commit a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Prostitution

Florida law makes it illegal for anyone to engage in prostitution or procure another person for prostitution while knowing that you are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. If you engage in such behavior you commit a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Prostitution with HIV

It is also a crime to commit prostitution in Florida if you have HIV. Anyone who engages in prostitution, solicits a prostitute, or offers to engage in prostitution while knowingly infected with HIV commits a third-degree felony in Florida.

Criminal transmission of HIV

If you engage in certain types of crimes in Florida while knowing you are infected with HIV, you commit an additional crime known as criminal transmission of HIV. The crimes included under this law include, but are not limited to, sexual battery, incest, assault, aggravated battery, and child abuse.

For example, take the situation where a person in Florida knows she has HIV. She gets into a fight and is charged with aggravated battery. Because she knew she was HIV-positive at the time, prosecutors can charge her with the criminal transmission of HIV in addition to the aggravated battery charge. Criminal transmission of HIV is a third-degree felony in Florida.

Possible Defenses

The legal defenses available to you in a criminal case will differ depending on your individual circumstances. Only an attorney can tell you what defenses may apply in your situation, but some of the following may be applicable in STD crime cases in Florida.

Knowledge

Florida’s STD laws require that a person know that he or she has been infected with a sexually transmitted disease. The law states that you must know you are infected with an STD, or that you have been informed that you have tested positive for an STD and that you could possibly communicate the disease to someone if you engage in sexual activity. If you don’t know you have an STD you cannot be convicted of an STD crime.

Consent

If you are charged with an STD crime in Florida you cannot be convicted if you are able to prove that the person with whom you engaged in sexual activity was informed of your disease status and consented to the contact. You have to inform the other person before engaging in sexual activity, and telling someone about your STD status after having sex is not good enough.

Penalties

Anyone convicted of an STD crime in Florida faces a range of criminal penalties. The particular penalties given will differ depending on the individual crimes charged and the circumstances of the case.

Misdemeanor of the First Degree

Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree in Florida can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $1,000.

Felony of the Third Degree

Anyone convicted of a third-degree felony in Florida faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Probation

Someone convicted of an STD crime in Florida might also have to serve a period of probation. Probation sentences differ, but will typically last 12 months or longer. Anyone serving a probation sentence will have to comply with the court's probation conditions. These conditions typically include paying all fines on time, reporting to a probation officer, and not committing more crimes. Anyone violating probation faces additional penalties such as more fines, a longer probation period, and serving time in jail or prison.

Restitution

If you committed an STD crime in Florida and your actions resulted in someone else suffering a monetary loss you will also have to pay restitution to compensate the victim. For example, if your crime resulted in someone else becoming infected with a disease, you may have to pay that person restitution for his or her medical costs.

Talk to a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a sexually transmitted disease crime in Florida can lead to significant criminal penalties. Any time you face a criminal prosecution you are pitted against the vast resources of the state of Florida, it’s criminal investigators, and prosecutors. An experienced Florida criminal defense attorney is the only person who is qualified to protect your rights during the criminal justice process. As soon as you learn you are being investigated, have been charged with a crime, or merely need legal advice, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area who has personal experience with the local criminal justice system.

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