Intentional Exposure to an Infectious Disease
It is a crime in California to intentionally spread an infectious disease. An infectious disease often refers to sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, HIV, or AIDS. But the law can be applied to any infectious disease. The most relevant example of an infectious disease at the moment is the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the intentional spread of it can result in criminal charges. Intentionally coughing or spitting on another person while having, or claiming to have, the virus can result in potential jail time as well as fines. It may even be considered a terrorist threat, depending on the circumstances. If you, or someone you love, have been charged with intentionally transmitting an infectious disease, call the Law Offices of William Kroger today at (323) 655-5700 to schedule a free consultation.California Law Regarding Exposure to an Infectious Disease
The law regarding exposure to an infectious disease is outlined in Health and Safety Code 120290. You are guilty of breaking this law if you:
- Know that you are afflicted with an infectious or communicable disease.
- Act with the specific intent to transmit that disease to another person.
- Engage in conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission to that person.
- Transmit the infectious or communicable disease to another person.
Common examples of this crime include knowingly having unprotected sex with a partner after being diagnosed with herpes or HIV/AIDS. A very serious instance of this crime would be someone learning that they are HIV positive and then having unprotected sex out of spite, in order to infect as many people as possible.
You can also be found guilty of breaking this law if you intentionally have a third party with an infectious disease placed in a situation where he/she can infect others. A common example of this would be a parent who knowingly sends a child with a dangerous infectious disease to school.
It’s also important to note that you do not need to actually infect another person to be charged with this crime. As long as you intended to infect someone else, you can be charged.Exposing Someone to Coronavirus
As the world is coming to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic, laws regarding the virus are not yet clear. While the virus is spreading rapidly on its own without any help, intentionally trying to infect someone can most certainly have you facing criminal charges.
In a best-case scenario, you will be charged with exposing someone to an infectious disease, in a worst-case scenario, you may be charged with an even more serious crime. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen stated that because Coronavirus might be labeled a “biological agent” those who try to purposely spread it can be charged with terrorism. Recently a Texas woman was arrested for going on social media and claiming that she was infected with COVID-19 and actively spreading it. She was charged with a felony for making a terroristic threat.Legal Defenses
There are numerous legal defenses to a charge of transmitting an infectious disease. Here are the most common ones:
- You didn’t know that you were a carrier of an infectious disease.
- You didn’t intend to transmit the infectious disease.
- No transmission took place.
You have to have definitive knowledge of your condition in order to be charged with spreading it to another person. So, for example, if you didn’t know that you have an infectious disease, and you never got tested or received treatment for it, and you had no definitive knowledge that you had it, you would not be criminally liable.Penalties For Intentionally Transmitting An Infectious Disease
A violation of Health and Safety Code 120290 is a misdemeanor. If you are charged with this crime, you are facing:
- A sentence of up to six months in county jail.
- A fine of up to $1,000.
Intentionally exposing someone to the risk of getting an infectious disease is illegal and can lead to jail time as well as fines. If you, or someone you know, have been accused of intentionally transmitting an infectious disease, you should speak with an attorney right away. Call the Law Offices of William Kroger today at (323) 655-5700 to speak with one of our attorneys.