Transmitting an STD in Texas

In Texas, people who know that they are infected with HIV/AIDS and expose other people to the disease can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, or even attempted murder. People who know they are infected with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) could also possibly be charged with assault.

For more information on the criminal transmission of STDs, see Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

Assault With a Deadly Weapon

In Texas, a person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS and intentionally exposes another person to the disease may be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. A deadly weapon is anything that that can be used to cause death or serious injury.

(Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.02.)

For example, prosecutors in Texas charged a man who knew he was infected with HIV with assault with a deadly weapon after the man committed sexual assault. The court concluded that under Texas’ laws, infected semen could be considered a deadly weapon if the defendant engages in unprotected sexual contact.

(Mathonican v. State, 194 S.W.3d 59 (Tex. App. 2006).)

For more information on assault in Texas, see Simple Assault in Texas and Aggravated Assault and Deadly Conduct in Texas.

Attempted Murder

If a person knows that he or she is infected with HIV/AIDS (or another STD that could cause death) and exposes another to the disease in order to intentionally infect the victim, the person could also conceivably be charged with attempted murder.

For example, a prisoner who knew that he had HIV and spat on a prison guard was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison. Although the risk of transmission was slim, that defendant intended to infect the guard with HIV and kill the guard.

(Weeks v. State, 834 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. App. 1992).)

Transmitting Diseases Other Than HIV/AIDS

People who transmit other sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, syphilis, or hepatitis may be charged under Texas’s assault statutes. In Texas, a person commits the crime of assault by causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury to another.

(Tex. Penal Code Ann. § § 22.01, 22.02.)

Prosecutors in Texas may conclude that defendants who know they have STDs and intentionally engage in conduct that results in infection have inflicted bodily injury or serious bodily injury and are guilty of assault.

Punishment

Attempted murder is punishable by two to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assault with a deadly weapon or assault that causes serious bodily injury is punishable by two to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assault that merely causes bodily injury is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

(Tex. Penal Code Ann. § § 12.21, 12.32, 12.33.)

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

In Texas, exposing another person to an STD can have serious consequences, including attempted murder or assault charges. If you are charged with a crime because you are infected with HIV/AIDS or another STD, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. With an attorney’s help, you will be able to navigate the criminal justice system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case, such as a dismissal, acquittal, plea bargain, or a lesser sentence than the maximum allowed by law.

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