Transmitting an STD in Illinois

In Illinois, it is a crime to engage in some types of activity if you know you are HIV-positive. Unlike many other states, Illinois criminalizes risky behaviors only if a person has HIV, and not other STDs.

It's important to note, however, that even though the Illinois STD laws apply only to HIV, other crimes may apply in some situations. It's possible, for example, to be charged with assault or a similar crime if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly try to infect someone with an STD, either through sexual contact or another method.

For more general information about crimes involving sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, you can read Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

For more information on assault in Illinois, see Assault and Battery Laws in Illinois, Assault and Battery with a Deadly Weapon in Illinois, and Illinois Aggravated Assault and Battery.

What STDs are Covered in Illinois?

The Illinois criminal STD law specifically targets the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The law defines HIV as either the human immunodeficiency virus or any agent that causes it.

Criminalized Conduct

The state of Illinois makes it a crime for anyone who knows that he or she carries, or is infected by, the human immunodeficiency virus to engage in certain activity. Anyone with HIV cannot engage in sexual activity or intimate contact with someone else; nor can they donate blood, semen, bodily tissue, organs, or other bodily material to someone else. Also, a person with HIV cannot exchange non-sterile drug paraphernalia with others. Anyone with HIV who engages in any of these activities commits the criminal transmission of HIV, a Class 2 felony offense. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/12-5.01)

Sexual Activity

Illinois defines sexual activity very specifically. Any anal or vaginal intercourse between males and females or males and males constitutes sexual activity. If either partner is infected with HIV, they commit the criminal transmission of HIV if they have any such contact.

Drug Paraphernalia

The Illinois law defines drug paraphernalia as any equipment, product, or material used for the injection of substances into the body. This definition includes any intravenous or intramuscular hypodermic needles or similar devices commonly used by recreational drug users.

Transmission

Even though the state of Illinois criminalizes the “transmission of HIV” as a felony offense, the law does not require that someone exposed to HIV is actually infected with it. Knowing you have HIV and engaging in the prohibited activity is enough to commit this crime.

Possible Defenses to Transmitting an STD Crime

The circumstances of each case determine what defenses are possible. Illinois has some specific defenses that may be possible in some cases, though not in others.

Consent

Illinois specifically allows for the defense of consent in the transmission of HIV cases. If a person engages in the prohibited conduct with someone else, it is not a crime if the other person agreed to engage in that conduct. For example, a person with HIV does not commit a crime if he or she engages in sexual acts with someone else and that person is aware of the HIV status prior to consenting to engage in the sexual contact.

Knowing

The Illinois law specifically requires that a person engage in a prohibited act knowing that he or she has HIV. If you are not aware that you have HIV, you have not committed the crime of criminal transmission of HIV.

Penalties

As a class 2 felony, the criminal transmission of HIV in Illinois is a very serious offense. Being convicted of a Class 2 felony can lead to prison time, fines, probation, and other penalties.

  • Prison. The criminal transmission of HIV in Illinois can lead to an incarceration sentence of between three and seven years in a state prison.
  • Extended terms. Illinois courts also have the ability to sentence an offender to an extended prison term if certain aggravated factors are present. These include conduct that caused or threaten serious harm, having a history of prior criminal activity, using your office to prevent the offense from coming to justice, as well as other conditions. If any such conditions are present, the court can impose between seven and 14 years in prison.
  • Fines. Anyone convicted of the criminal transmission of HIV in Illinois also faces up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Probation. Probation may be possible for someone convicted of a Class 2 felony in Illinois, but not in all cases. If the court decides to grant probation, the convicted probationer must comply with the range conditions during the length of the sentence. These include regularly reporting to a probation officer, paying all fines and restitution, and not committing other crimes.
  • Restitution. If a victim of the crime suffered any injury or loss of property as a result of the activity, the court will also order restitution. Restitution orders vary widely, but paying restitution is always a condition of probation, and is separate from any fines imposed.

Find a Local Attorney

The criminal transmission of HIV in Illinois is a very serious crime. If you’re facing such a charge, you need legal advice from an attorney near you before you speak to investigators or make any decisions about your case. You have specific rights during the entire criminal justice process, and a local attorney who is familiar with the laws of the state of Illinois, as well as with local prosecutors and courts, is the only person capable of defending those rights on your behalf. Any delay in seeking counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area can seriously affect your case.

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