Infecting Another with HIV Could Mean Capital Punishment in Florida
As the 35th anniversary of the discovery of the virus that causes AIDS approaches, Florida lawmakers will weigh new legislation that makes certain behavior a capital crime, according to a recent report in Florida Politics. The bill would amend a law that’s currently on the books, which makes it a crime to knowingly spread sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The proposed legislation would elevate the crime of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with STD to a higher degree crime, and multiple offenses could lead to the death penalty. The elements of the crime may be a challenge for prosecutors to prove, so it’s wise to consult with a Florida criminal defense lawyer.
Unlawful Intercourse with STD Defined
Florida law makes it a crime to engage in sexual intercourse with another person if you know that you’re infected with a transmittable STD, unless you notify the individual and obtain his or her consent. The definition of sexual intercourse is quite broad to include more than just the traditional act involved the genitals of a man and woman; oral and anal sexual intercourse between opposite or same sexes are covered by the statute.
Knowledge of STD
Awareness of carrying the disease is critical to proving the crime of Unlawful Intercourse with STD, but prosecutors can establish knowledge in one of two ways:
- Actual knowledge of an infection refers to having been formally diagnosed with STD by a physician or other healthcare professional; or,
- Constructive knowledge, which means there are obvious indications that you carry an STD. For instance, you may have genital warts, a rash, or experience pain with bodily functions.
The full list of sexually transmitted diseases that are grounds for charging you with a crime is included in the statute, but some of the more common infections are:
- Chancroid (painful sores on the genitalia);
- Lymphogranuloma Venereum (a condition that impacts the lymphatic system);
- Genital Herpes Simplex;
- HIV; and,
Penalties for Unlawful Intercourse with STD
Under current Florida law, the crime is a first degree misdemeanor for any STD except HIV. You could be facing up to a year in prison, a year of probation, and a maximum fine of $1,000.
The penalties increase for Unlawful Intercourse with HIV: It’s a third degree felony that can lead to a sentence of up to five years in prison, five years on probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
A Qualified Florida Criminal Lawyer Will Defend Your Rights
A prosecuting attorney must prove all necessary elements of the Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with STD in order to obtain a conviction. If there are weaknesses in the case, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can identify and exploit them to protect your rights. You may be facing extremely harsh penalties, even death, so it’s critical to retain a qualified defense attorney that will fight the charges. Fort Lauderdale lawyer Kevin J. Kulik has years of experience representing clients in all types of criminal cases and can advise you on your options. Please contact our office today for a confidential consultation.