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