Is it a Crime to Transmit an STD in California?

December 29, 2021 by Sarah Edwards in California  
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Sexual Health Laws

Many states have laws that regulate behavior related to sexual health.

When someone knowingly infects another person with a sexually transmitted disease, they may be held legally accountable. The California Health and Safety Code prohibits people from purposefully transmitting an STD or any other transmissible disease.

Those who get someone else to transmit an STD to a third party can also be held accountable for their actions.

In 2018, California’s transmissible disease statutes were restructured significantly. For instance, California state law no longer distinguishes between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

To learn more about the STD laws in California, read on.

What Kind of Crime Is Transmitting an STD?

According to California Health and Safety Code 120290, intentionally transmitting any infectious disease is a crime.

This includes the following:

  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Herpes

Not every instance of transmitting an STD qualifies as a crime. Under California state law, the following four criteria must apply for an action to be considered a crime:

  • The defendant knew that they were infected with an STD
  • The defendant intended to transmit the STD to the victim
  • The infected person put someone else at risk of transmission
  • The sexually transmitted disease is actually transmitted to the victim

In order for the incident to qualify as criminal, the victim cannot have known about the possibility of transmission. It is important to speak with a skilled attorney if you have been accused of this type of crime.

Recent Changes in California STD Laws

Recently, the laws regarding STD transmission in California have changed. In 2018, California Senate Bill 239 went into effect.

This statute changed how California state law handles sexually transmitted disease infections. SB 239 did the following:

  • Repealed the law that made HIV transmission a felony offense
  • Categorized STDs as similar to other contagious diseases
  • Reduced penalties for donating HIV infected blood

These changes to the law can have a significant impact on STD transmission cases.

Which Criminal Offenses Are Related to Intentional STD Transmission?

There are many criminal acts that are related to willfully spreading a sexually transmitted disease in California. These include:

Soliciting Prostitution (Penal Code 647(b))

Prostitution involves the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. When a defendant gets another person to spread an STD to the victim, they can be criminally charged.

Supervising Prostitution (Penal Code 653.23)

If a pimp knows that a prostitute is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, they may also face criminal charges for willfully spreading the disease.

Assault Using a Deadly Weapon (Penal Code 245(a)(1))

In some cases, infecting someone with HIV is classified as assault with a deadly weapon. Juries in Texas have convicted defendants for this type of charge.

Legal Defenses for Transmitting STDs in California

If you or someone you love has been accused of knowingly spreading a sexually transmitted, reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible. An accomplished legal professional will ensure that your rights are protected and provide the strongest defense available.

There are several legal defenses that can be effective for those who are accused of transmitting an STD. To defend yourself, you can provide evidence that:

  • Disease transmission happened as the result of pregnancy
  • You took practical measures to prevent disease transmission
  • The risk of disease transmission was low
  • The disease was transmitted through an organ or tissue donation

One of the strongest legal defenses is showing that you took appropriate measures to prevent infection. This undermines the claim that you intentionally spread the STD.

Appropriate transmission prevention measures include:

  • Using condoms or alternative prophylactics
  • Adhering to an appropriate STD prevention plan

When you contact a legal representative, they may also argue that the risks of STD transmission were low in your case. This defense is particularly strong in cases that do not involve transmission through sexual intercourse.

Penalties for Spreading an STD

In California, intentionally spreading an STD is classified as a misdemeanor. This type of criminal conviction can carry the following penalties:

  • Up to six months of jail time
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

Attempting to transmit a sexually transmitted disease is also classified as a misdemeanor in California. Because the crime was not successfully completed, the penalties are less severe. They include:

  • Up to 90 days of jail time
  • Up to $1,000 in fines

When you are facing a criminal allegation, it is vital to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. A skilled legal expert can craft a powerful defense on your behalf, while a criminal conviction can have drastic consequences for your personal and professional life.

Contact Us

When you need the best legal representation available, reach out to Esfandi Law Group. We will gladly provide you with a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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