Transmitting an STD in Michigan

Under Michigan law, it is a crime for a person who knows he or she has AIDS or HIV to have sex with another person without disclosing the infection. Other STDs, such as herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis, are not included within the Michigan statute discussed here; however, that does not mean that deliberate or reckless transmission of these diseases would not subject the actor to criminal charges in Michigan. Rather, charges such as assault, aggravated assault, or battery might be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.

For more information on the crime of transmitting STDs in general, see

Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws and Penalties.

For information on assault and battery crimes in Michigan, see Simple Assault and Battery in Michigan and Felony Assault and Battery in Michigan.

What is Criminal Exposure to HIV/AIDS in Michigan?

It is a felony in Michigan for a person who:

  • knows that he or she has acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (“AIDS”) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome related complex (“AIDS related complex”)
  • has been diagnosed as having AIDS or AIDS related complex, or
  • knows that he or she is HIV infected

to engage in “sexual penetration” with another person without first disclosing the infection to the other person. (Mich. Comp. Laws §333.5210(1).)

“Knows”

The Michigan statute does not define what the term “knows” means as it is used in the statute. And, since it is used along with the term “diagnosed,” it is safe to assume that it means something other than knowledge of infection gained by a diagnosis. Thus, a person who has symptoms indicating HIV/AIDS infection or who knows that he or she has been exposed to HIV/AIDS may have the knowledge required by the statute. However, the Michigan Public Health Code does define “HIV infected” to mean “the status of an individual who has tested positive for HIV” in a test considered reliable under federal standards. (Mich. Comp. Laws §333.5101(1)(e).)

“Sexual penetration”

The Michigan statute defines “sexual penetration” as sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, anal intercourse, or “any other intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the genital or anal openings” of another person’s body. (Mich. Comp. Laws §333.5210(2).) This definition includes penetration by an HIV/AID-positive individual into another person’s genitals or anus with not only the infected individual’s genitals but also with any other part of their body or with an instrument. This would include penetration with fingers, sex toys, or other objects that are known not to transmit HIV/AIDS.

Under the statute, the HIV/AIDS-positive individual need not have ejaculated semen in order to have violated the law.

Blood donation

Michigan law also prohibits any person who knows that he or she has tested positive for HIV from donating or selling his or her blood or blood products (such as plasma) to a blood bank or other organization that collects blood or blood products. (Mich. Comp. Laws §11101.)

Defenses

A person charged under the Michigan law may raise certain defenses to the charge of criminal exposure of another to HIV, AIDS, or AIDS related complex. Here are a few of them.

Lack of knowledge

The Michigan law requires that the person charged knew that he or she was infected with HIV, AIDS, or AIDS related complex at the time of engaging in sexual penetration with another person. This means that people who genuinely do not know that they are infected cannot be convicted under the Michigan law.

Disclosure

In order to prove a violation of the Michigan criminal exposure law, the prosecutor must prove that defendants did not disclose their infection to the people with whom they engaged in sexual penetration prior to having sex. Defendants who did disclose their infection to the other person prior to engaging in sexual penetration cannot be convicted under Michigan law.

How is Criminal Transmission of HIV Punished in Michigan?

Criminal exposure to HIV, AIDS, or AIDS related complex is a felony under Michigan law. A person convicted of criminal exposure in Michigan may receive a sentence of up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

How is Blood Donation by a Person with HIV Punished in Michigan?

Blood or blood product donation or sale by a person with HIV is a misdemeanor under Michigan law. An HIV-positive person convicted of donating blood or blood product may receive a sentence of up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.

An Important Note on Local Legal Representation

If you have been charged with criminal transmission of HIV, AIDS, AIDS related complex, or any other sexual crime, see a Michigan lawyer experienced in criminal defense law. An experienced, local lawyer will be able to assess the strength of the prosecution's case, the viability of any defenses you may have, and the chances for a resolution of the case prior to trial.

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