Is STD Transmission a Criminal Offense in Florida?
When you think of offenses involving bodily harm to another person, assault, battery, and aggravated crimes come to mind. You might be surprised to learn that, under certain circumstances, simply engaging in consensual sexual intercourse may be a criminal offense. If you’ve contracted certain types of sexually transmitted diseases, you could face charges under Florida’s statute on unlawful STD transmission.
The law is rather broad and covers a wide range of activity, so it’s important to retain a Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney if you’ve been charged with transmitting an STD to another person. You might also find it helpful to review important factors regarding the crime and defenses.
Various Forms of STD Transmission Offenses: The statute includes long list of sexually transmitted diseases that could lead to charges, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and syphilis. However, a prosecutor must still prove certain essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You have one of the designated diseases;
- You know that you have an STD and have been informed that you may transmit it through sexual contact; and,
- You did NOT tell the other person about the STD or obtain consent after informing him or her.
From the above elements, you should note that you don’t actually have to infect the other person with an STD. The act of engaging in sexual activity, knowing you could transmit it, is unlawful.
HIV Transmission: The statute contains a separate provision for transmission of human immunodeficiency virus infection – HIV, which is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s still a crime to engage in sexual activity with a person under the three elements described above. However, the crime is elevated to Criminal Transmission of HIV if you engage in other offenses at the same time, including:
- Sexual battery, i.e., rape;
- Assault; and,
- Aggravated assault.
As an example, if a person with HIV attacks another individual, there could be charges for assault AND Criminal Transmission of HIV. This offense is a Third Degree Felony under Florida law.
Penalties for a Conviction on Transmission of STDs: In many cases involving STD transmission, the offense is a First Degree Misdemeanor, the most serious form of misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. The offense is elevated to a Third Degree Felony under certain circumstances involving prostitution, such as:
- You engage in prostitution by accepting money or something of value for sex;
- You solicit a prostitute; or,
- You offer to engage in prostitution.
If convicted of a Third Degree Felony, you face up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $5,000.
Defenses May Be Available to Fight the Charges: The two key defenses in an STD transmission case involve disproving the essential elements of the crime. If you didn’t know you had a disease, or you obtained consent from the other individual, you may be able to beat the charges.
Consult with a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer About STD Transmission Offenses.
For more information on criminal STD transmission, please contact the Fort Lauderdale office of criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can provide more information on defense options after reviewing your situation.