Transmitting an STD in Virginia

In Virginia, it is a crime for a person who knows that he or she is infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) to expose another to infection.

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

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Virginia’s criminal exposure statute applies only to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), syphilis, and hepatitis B. However, it is possible that a person who intentionally infects others with another STD, such as gonorrhea, could be charged with a crime under a different law.

Infected Sexual Battery

In Virginia, it is a crime for a person who knows that he or she is infected with HIV, syphilis, or hepatitis B to engage in sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal sex):

  • with the intent to transmit the infection, or
  • without previously telling the partner of the infection.

(Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-67.4:1.)

Malicious Wounding Charges

People who expose others to STDs could also possibly be charged with other crimes in Virginia, such as malicious wounding. The crime of malicious wounding is committed by intentionally causing injury to another person with the intent to kill or very seriously injure.

(Va. Code Ann. § § 18.2-51, 18.2-67.4:1.)

A prosecutor could decide that a defendant who knows that he or she has a serious disease, such as HIV or drug-resistant gonorrhea, and nonetheless intentionally engages in conduct in order to infect a sex partner, has intentionally caused injury with an intent to kill the victim.

For more information, see Malicious and Unlawful Wounding in Virginia.

Donating Blood

It is also a crime in Virginia for anyone to donate or sell (or attempt to donate or sell, or consent to the donation or sale of) blood, semen, or organs from a person infected with HIV.

(Va. Code Ann. § 32.1-289.2.)

Defenses

It is a defense to the crime of sexual battery that the defendant told the partner of the infection prior to engaging in sexual contact.

(Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-67.4:1.)

Generally, condom use is not a defense to the charge of criminal exposure.

Punishment

Infected sexual battery with intent to transmit infection is a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to one year in jail or one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500. Otherwise, infected sexual battery is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Malicious wounding is a Class 3 felony, punishable by five to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.

Donating infected blood is also a Class 6 felony.

(Va. Code Ann. § § 18.2-10, 18.2-11, 18.2-51, 18.2-67.4:1, 32.1-289.2.)

Obtaining Legal Advice and Representation

Being convicted of infected sexual battery, malicious wounding, or donating infected blood can result in time in jail or prison, a fine, and a criminal record with lasting consequences. If you are charged with an STD crime in Virginia, you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court based on the facts and the assigned judge and prosecutor. With an attorney’s help, you can obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

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