Transmitting an STD in Indiana

In the state of Indiana, passing certain sexually transmitted diseases to others is a crime in some situations. Depending on the circumstances of the case, an STD crime will be either a felony or misdemeanor offense.

For general information about the crime of transmitting a sexually transmitted disease, you can read Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

What Is a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Indiana law identifies several sexually transmitted diseases whose transmission is an offense in certain situations. These diseases include hepatitis B, tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). (Indiana Code section 16-41-7-1 and 35-45-16-2.)

Criminalized Conduct

Not every transmission of a disease mentioned above results in criminal liability. By law, only specified types or kinds of activities will subject the transmitter to criminal charges. Each transmission act has its own penalty. (In Indiana, felonies are classed as A, B, C, or D, with Class A being the most serious.) The transmission activities and penalties include the following.

Donations

Anyone who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly donates blood or other bodily components infected with HIV commits a Class C felony in Indiana. However, if the donation results in someone else becoming infected with the virus, it is a more serious offense—a Class A felony. (Indiana Code section 35-42-1-7)

Bodily waste battery

If you intentionally use bodily fluids to attack someone, you’ve committed a bodily waste battery in Indiana. Bodily waste batteries are punished more severely when an STD is involved, and will depend on the nature of the victim:

  • Peace officers, prison guards, and first responders. If your battery recklessly exposes these victims to HIV, hepatitis B, or tuberculosis, it is a Class C felony. If the attack resulted in transmission of hepatitis or TB, it is a Class B felony, while transmission of HIV is a Class A felony.
  • All other victims. If the attack involving an STD was not against the victims listed above it is a Class D felony. Transmitting hepatitis B or TB is a Class C felony, and transmitting HIV is a Class A felony. (Indiana Code section 35-42-2-6.)

For more information on assault and battery in Indiana, see Indiana Battery Laws.

Malicious mischief

If you place blood, semen, urine, or feces in a place or in a manner in which you intend someone else to ingest it, you have committed the crime of malicious mischief. If you knew or recklessly failed to know that the material contained HIV, the crime is a Class D felony. If someone else was infected as a result of the malicious mischief, it is a Class B felony.

Failure to warn

Anyone who has AIDS, HIV, or hepatitis B has a duty to warn others when they engage in “high risk activity” with those people. “High risk activity” means engaging in sexual contact or sharing hypodermic needles. Those who recklessly violate this requirement commit a Class B misdemeanor, but defendants who knowingly and intentionally do so commit a Class D felony. (Indiana Code sections 16-41-7-1 and35-42-1-9.)

Defenses to a Charge of Transmitting an STD

Depending on the charge and the facts of the case, the following defenses may apply. As you have just learned, Indiana has several laws covering the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases; not all of the defenses explained below apply to each offense.

Donation notification

If you are accused of donating contaminated bodily material, you can argue that you are not guilty of the crime because you provided the blood center or party that took the biological material with the proper notification of your condition. Also, you can defend against the charge if you donated the material for research purposes.

Identified personnel

If you are accused of a bodily waste battery of an officer or first responder, the prosecutor must prove the officers or first responders were engaged in their official duties and were identified as officers or first responders. If, for example, the officer was not on duty, or the first responder was not clearly identified as such (by wearing a uniform, for example), you can defend on this basis.

Reckless or knowing

In order to be convicted of some STD crimes in Indiana, the prosecutor must prove that you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly exposed someone else to the disease. Prosecutors typically show intent through the circumstances of the case, meaning they do not have to prove your actual state of mind at the time. However, if you can show that your state of mind did not rise to the level of intentional or reckless behavior, you are not guilty of the crime.

Punishments

Indiana law allows for a range of penalties for each crime. If you are convicted of a transmission of an STD crime, you typically face jail or prison time, fines, and the possibility of probation in some cases. Because a range of penalties are possible, the sentence in one case may differ significantly from the sentence in another.

  • Class A felony. A Class A felony is punishable by between 20 and 50 years in state prison. Class a felonies also come with a potential fine of up to $10,000.
  • Class B felony. A Class B misdemeanor is less serious than a Class A felony, though it still comes with a very stiff potential prison sentence. Anyone convicted of a Class B felony faces between six and 20 years in state prison. It also comes with a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • Class C felony. A Class C felony has a potential prison sentence of two to eight years in an Indiana state prison. Anyone convicted of this crime also faces a maximum $10,000 fine.
  • Class D felony. Class D felonies are the least serious felonies in Indiana, with potential sentences of six months to three years’ incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • Class B Misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor has a potential penalty of no more than 180 days in jail. Anyone convicted of this crime also faces a maximum fine of $1,000.

Talk to a Lawyer

The state of Indiana is not very forgiving when it comes to the criminal transmission of certain sexually transmitted diseases. These cases can hinge upon numerous details, such as how investigators collected evidence and what your state of mind was at the time. You need to speak to a local Indiana criminal defense attorney if you are facing a charge of transmitting an STD. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be familiar with local courts and prosecutors, and is the only person who can advise you about your case and defend your rights at all stages of the criminal justice process.

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