It is morally wrong to purposely expose someone to a communicable disease, for example, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), without their knowledge. In California, such an act is considered a serious crime. If arrested for transmitting an STD, you could face serious legal consequences. If found guilty, you could serve time in jail, be subject to hefty fines, and have a criminal history.

Fortunately for you, with the help of a skilled criminal lawyer, you can contest the charges. At the Sex Crimes Attorney, we have seasoned attorneys who know the law and have links with prosecutors and judges. So, if you are arrested for transmitting an STD in California, contact us for legal counsel and representation.

Meaning of Transmitting an STD In California

California Health and Safety Code 120290 punishes culprits who knowingly and intentionally transmit infectious or contagious diseases to unknowing persons. The prosecution must prove particular elements beyond a reasonable doubt to secure your conviction under this statute. These include:

  • You must have known that you or a third party had a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • You intended to transmit the STD to another person or cause a third party to do so.
  • Your conduct must have posed a significant risk of transmitting the STD to another person.
  • The STD was indeed transmitted to the accuser, either through your actions or a third party's actions.

Health and Safety Code 120290 covers various infectious and communicable diseases, including but not limited to:

  • HIV disease and AIDS.
  • Herpes.
  • Gonorrhea.
  • Chlamydia.

These diseases can spread directly or indirectly from a patient to a healthy person and pose significant public health implications.

Definitions of Terms

The following definitions provide clarity and guidance in evaluating activities, diseases, and preventive measures related to infectious or communicable diseases:

Behavior That Poses A Significant Risk Of Transmission

This phrase refers to activities with a reasonable probability of transmitting infectious diseases. Imagine that you are engaged in certain activities, and there is a chance that STDs could be spread. That is what the law is concerned about.

Competent medical or epidemiological evidence is required to determine if an activity meets this definition. If the evidence proves the risk is low or negligible, it will not qualify as conduct posing a significant risk.

If you are doing something with a high likelihood of an STD transmission, take precautions to protect yourself and others. If the activity carries a minimal risk, you can breathe a little easier knowing you are not violating HS 120290.

Infectious Or Communicable Disease

Infectious or communicable diseases are illnesses that spread from one person to another, directly or indirectly, and significantly affect public health. These include HIV, AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. When these diseases are involved, public health becomes a top priority.

The law aims to address diseases that can cause widespread harm, and understanding what qualifies as communicable or infectious is crucial for its proper application. So, remember, these diseases can potentially impact public health on a larger scale.

Practical Means To Prevent Transmission

When it comes to avoiding STD transmission, practical means include methods, devices, behaviors, or activities scientifically demonstrated to reduce the risk of transmission. For example, if you want to protect yourself and others from potential diseases, you do the following:

  • Use a condom during intimate moments.
  • Use prophylactic devices or barrier protection.
  • Follow a prescribed treatment diligently.

The above are all examples of practical means to prevent transmission. Following these measures protects you and contributes to public health by minimizing the risk of disease spread.

Legal Defenses to an HS 120290 Violation

Facing HS 120290 violation charges can be a daunting situation. However, there are legal defenses available that you can utilize to challenge the accusations and potentially avoid conviction. These include:

You Took the Recommended Measures To Avoid Transmission

If you have been accused of deliberately exposing someone else to an STD, you could mount a defense by demonstrating that you took appropriate measures to prevent transmission. For example, using a condom during sexual activity is a scientifically backed method to reduce the risk of spreading infections. Evidence of these preventive actions can show your intent to protect others from potential exposure.

No Knowledge Of An Infectious Disease

If you did not know you had a sexually transmitted disease, the court could not convict you of an HS 120290 violation. California law acknowledges this as a valid defense, allowing you to challenge the accusations if you genuinely did not know about your health condition.

The court can only consider you guilty of an HS 120290 charge if you knew you had an STD. ​​If you can present evidence or provide testimony you did not know about being infected, it can serve as a compelling defense against the charges.

Before presenting your side of the story, you want to gather all relevant medical records, test results, and other evidence supporting your claim of not knowing about the disease. Also, collaborating with medical professionals who can attest to your lack of knowledge can strengthen your defense.

No Intent To Transmit

If you could demonstrate that you had no intent to transmit the infectious disease to the plaintiff, the court could not punish you. Your defense attorney could use this defense when the prosecution alleges that you intentionally put others at risk of contracting the disease.

You are not deemed to have acted intending to transmit the disease if you took practical measures to prevent transmission. For example, using protection like condoms during sexual activity can be a strong argument in support of this defense.

Proving the absence of intent can be challenging, but it can significantly impact the outcome of your case. You can gather evidence supporting your responsible actions and precautions, such as any communication, texts, or statements expressing concern about protecting others from the transmission.

The Risk Of Transmission Was Low

Another possible defense revolves around the risk of transmission associated with the communicable disease. In cases like HIV, where a person has a low viral load, the risk of transmitting the virus is significantly reduced.

Coupled with preventive measures, such as consistent medical treatment and adherence to prescribed regimens, this can further support your defense against intentional exposure allegations.

The legal landscape has evolved concerning low-risk individuals with communicable diseases. For instance, California Senate Bill 239 repealed the law that previously made it a felony to engage in unprotected sex with someone else when you know you have HIV. This change acknowledges that prosecutions should focus on individuals more likely to transmit the disease.

No Transmission

In California, HS 120290 makes it a crime to intentionally transmit an STD to another person. However, if you face charges under this law and prove that there was no actual transmission of the STD, it can serve as a strong defense in your favor.

The judge can only consider you guilty of violating HS 120290 if there was, in fact, a transmission of the STD. If you can demonstrate that the disease was not passed from you to another person, you can argue your innocence.

You can support the "No transmission" defense by providing evidence showing the absence of STD transmission. Evidence could include medical records, test results, or expert testimony demonstrating that the alleged victim did not contract the disease from you.

You Disclosed Your Condition Before Engaging In Sexual Activity

If the accuser was aware of your medical condition yet willingly chose to engage in sexual activity with you, you might have a potential defense against these charges. Your defense attorney should present substantial evidence to support this assertion. Also, each case is unique, and the outcome will depend on the specific circumstances and evidence presented in your defense.

Why Work with an Attorney

When facing legal challenges, especially concerning transmitting an STD, you might be in a serious situation. Health and Safety Code 120290 can be intricate and involve multiple aspects, including medical privacy requirements. In such complex scenarios, you need a lawyer who knows the legal system's ins and outs.

Navigating Complexity

The complexities surrounding the deliberate transmission of STDs are particularly perplexing. Understanding the intricacies of the law, such as how it intersects with medical records' privacy, requires legal expertise. That is where an attorney comes in, helping you navigate the intricate legal web.

Unfamiliar Elements

Even cases that seem straightforward on the surface may harbor hidden elements that you, as a layperson, may not fully comprehend or know how to address effectively. An experienced attorney can shed light on these unfamiliar aspects and devise strategies to handle them. Having an attorney in your corner means you will not be caught off guard by unexpected legal challenges.

Your Advocate and Ally

When you hire an attorney, they become your advocate and ally. They will sit down with you to discuss the intricacies of your criminal case, understand your expectations, and review the factors surrounding the alleged crime. The lawyer can start collecting evidence to bolster your defense with this comprehensive understanding.

A Fresh Perspective

An attorney's trained eye can offer a fresh perspective on your case. They might see angles and possibilities that you hadn't considered. This different outlook can be invaluable in constructing a strong defense.

Securing Crucial Evidence

An attorney will quickly secure critical evidence before it becomes lost or unavailable. For example, if there were communications between you and the alleged victim before the incident, they would preserve and document such evidence for your defense.

Pretrial Negotiations

In many cases, pretrial negotiations can lead to a resolution outside the courtroom. This process can significantly impact the outcome of your case. However, without legal representation, you may find navigating these negotiations difficult, possibly exposing you to unfavorable outcomes, even with weak evidence against you.

A Skilled Litigator

If your case proceeds to trial, having a skilled litigator on your side is paramount. An experienced attorney with courtroom acumen can passionately advocate for you, challenge prosecution arguments effectively, and present a compelling defense.

Learning Curve Avoidance

Representing yourself in a criminal trial means going through a steep learning curve. The burden of a criminal charge is already significant, and trying to comprehend complex legal procedures can add unnecessary stress. An attorney brings the expertise to handle these complexities, sparing you the arduous learning process.

Choose Wisely

While having an attorney is essential, choosing the right one is equally crucial. Opt for an experienced attorney who deeply understands California's criminal laws and is familiar with local courts. This way, you can be confident that your attorney has a wealth of experience.

Possible Sentencing For Transmitting an STD in California

If convicted of willfully exposing someone else to an STD, you could face certain penalties outlined under HS 120290. Possible penalties are:

  • Serving time in jail for no more than six months.
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.

Immigration Consequences for Violating HS 120290

If you are an immigrant facing charges for transmitting an STD, you might be concerned about the potential immigration consequences of a conviction. Certain criminal convictions can result in negative immigration consequences, including deportation and being marked "inadmissible" for entry into the United States.

However, transmitting an STD is not an offense in this category. So if you are convicted, it will not automatically result in deportation or make you inadmissible to the United States.

Having an HS 120290 Conviction Expunged

If convicted of transmitting an STD, you may be eligible for expungement under certain circumstances. To be eligible for expungement, you must meet one of the following conditions:

  • Successfully Completing Probation. If you were sentenced to probation as part of your conviction, you may be eligible for expungement after completing the probationary period and fulfilling all requirements.
  • Completing Your Jail Sentence. If you served a jail term as part of your sentence, you may also be eligible for expungement upon completing the jail term.

Expungement is not automatic and is at the judge's discretion. The court will consider various factors, including your behavior during probation or jail, the seriousness of the offense, and your overall criminal record.

Expungement can be highly beneficial, as it releases you from penalties and disabilities due to the conviction, as stated under Penal Code 1203.4. This means that you will no longer be required to disclose the conviction in most situations, and it can improve your chances of securing employment, housing, or other opportunities.

How A Conviction Affects Your Gun Rights

Unlike some felonies in California, an HS 120290 conviction does not negatively affect your gun rights. So even if you have been convicted under HS 120290, you should retain your right to own, possess, and use firearms as long as you are prohibited for any other reason.

Related Offenses to Transmitting an STD, HS 120290

Under California law, you could face other charges in addition to or in place of transmitting an STD.

Medical Donation By A Person Infected With HIV, Health and Safety Code 1621.5

HS 1621.5 makes it illegal for someone living with HIV or AIDS to donate blood, semen, breast milk, or organs knowingly. HS 1621.5 differs from HS 120290 as it pertains specifically to the act of donation by an individual infected with HIV.

The prosecution must prove that you have HIV/ AIDS and that you donated blood, organs, semen, or breast milk, knowing you were infected. In California, HS 1621.5 is a wobbler offense. So the prosecution can charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties for HS 1621.5 violations can include the following:

  • Serving time in jail sentence for not oversix months.
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.

If charged as a felony, the penalties can include:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail.
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

Several defenses can be raised to challenge charges under HS 1621.5, including:

  • You did not know about their HIV/ AIDS infection at the time of the donation.
  • You did not intend to donate blood, organs, semen, or breast milk despite your HIV/ AIDS infection.
  • You were falsely accused, or it was a mistaken identity.
  • You donated with the explicit consent of the recipient.

Penalty Enhancement For Sex Crimes By Persons With HIV/ AIDS, California PC 12022.85

The prosecution must prove the following for the court to convict you under PC 12022.85:

  • You are convicted of a specified sex crime, which includes offenses such as:.
  • Oral copulation with a minor, California PC 287.
  • Rape, California PC 261.
  • Sodomy, California PC 286.
  • Spousal rape, California PC 262.
  • Statutory rape, California PC 261.5.
  • You have HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

PC 12022.85 imposes a penalty enhancement of three years to be served consecutively to the sentence for the underlying sex crime. For example, if you are convicted of rape (Penal Code 261), which has its own specified penalties, and are also found to have HIV or AIDS, you will face an additional three-year sentence enhancement on top of the penalties for the rape conviction.

While PC 12022.85 is a serious penalty enhancement, there are potential defenses that can be raised to challenge the enhancement, including:

  • Proving that they do not have HIV or AIDS, the enhancement cannot be applied.
  • The sexual activity was consensual, and the plaintiff was aware of your HIV or AIDS status.
  • Casting doubts about the accuracy or reliability of the HIV or AIDS test results or other evidence related to the infection.

Sexual battery, California Penal Code 243.4

California Penal Code 243.4 punishes sexual battery. Before the court can convict you, the prosecution must prove the following:

  • You engaged in the intentional and unlawful touching of another person's intimate parts.
  • The touching must have occurred without the consent of the alleged victim.
  • The touching was for sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse.

Sexual battery is generally considered a misdemeanor crime. Possible punishments include:

  • A jail sentence not exceeding six months.
  • A fine of up to $2,000.

However, under certain circumstances, sexual battery can be charged as a felony. If you have a prior conviction for sexual battery, rape, or other specified sex crimes, or if the victim was unlawfully restrained or institutionalized at the time of the offense, the charge may be elevated to a felony. Felony sexual battery can result in more severe penalties, including possible state prison time.

If you know you are innocent, you could use the following defenses to fight your charges:

  • The alleged victim gave consent to the touching.
  • You never touched the alleged victim's intimate parts intentionally.
  • The sexual battery charges may arise from misunderstandings, false accusations, or mistaken identity.
  • Mistake of fact. You reasonably believed that the alleged victim had consented, but there was a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may have many questions if you are entangled in a criminal case for transmitting STDs. Below are answers to examples of questions that you may have:

What are examples of when STD transmission is a crime?

The following are scenarios where STD transmission becomes a crime in California:

  • Deliberate attempts to infect others with HIV.
  • Encouraging someone to perform sex with an individual carrying herpes.
  • Being sexually active despite being diagnosed with a communicable disease.

Can I face charges for deliberate exposure to an STD if the sex was consensual?

Consent might seem relevant, but it is not the primary concern under Health and Safety Code 120290. The statute is more focused on the intention behind exposing someone to a communicable disease. So, whether the sexual encounter was consensual or not, if you intentionally expose someone to an STD, you can be charged with violating HS 120290.

Additionally, if you transmit an STD to a person during a non-consensual sexual encounter, you may face additional sentencing for the crime and charges related to the underlying offense, such as rape.

Can I Face Charges for transmitting an STD if I did not know I had it?

The question of intention and knowledge plays a pivotal role here. Prosecution for deliberately exposing someone else to a communicable disease requires evidence of knowledge. If you were unaware of having an STD, you could not have acted intentionally to spread the disease. However, you could still be considered guilty if you had symptoms but failed to seek medical attention.

For example, if you have multiple sexual partners and develop lesions in your private parts, responsible action would prompt a visit to the doctor. But ignoring these symptoms and continuing sexual activity could hold you responsible for any potential transmission. Prompt medical attention and responsible behavior are critical if you are uncertain about your STD status or have any symptoms.

Contact a Sex Crimes Lawyer Near Me

When facing charges for transmitting an STD under HS 120290, you might find yourself in a daunting and overwhelming situation. California law surrounding such cases can be intricate and involves multiple aspects, including medical privacy requirements. In such complex scenarios, hire a competent lawyer to help you maneuver the legal system.

At Sex Crimes Attorney, we have experienced defense attorneys who have helped many suspects fight their sex-related criminal charges. If you also face an HS 120290 violation charge in California, call us at 888-666-8480. We will offer you a free, non-obligatory case review and expert advice.