Legal Question in Criminal Law in Pennsylvania

Prosecuting someone who knowingly passed and std to someone else.

If a person knows they have an std, and they have sex with another person without telling them and pass them the std, can they be prosecuted? Also, can you please refer me to a case where such a thing has happened if there is one. Is it plausible for a law to be passed in order to prevent this. Could unprotected sex be a crime? If you could, I could also us an analogy-a case where a person was prosecuted for knowingly harming someone in a similar way. Any response will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

Asked on 11/01/99, 6:39 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Kevin Begley Kevin J. Begley - Attorney at Law
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Re: Prosecuting someone who knowingly passed and std to someone else.

You really know how to ask a tough question.

I don't know if anyone has been criminally charged in PA for giving someone AIDS, but I am sure it has happened elsewhere. AIDS kills. I read about the early CDC investigations on AIDS. There was a French-Canadian airline stweard who kept popping up in the CDC investigation of AIDS origins. The CDC had this guy in and explained to him he was having sex with other men (and maybe a few women), and they were dying. Years later they were STILL having his name pop up in their investigation. They had him in again. When they explained he was KILLING people, he said he didn't care. I'd have shot the SOB.

Civilly you can be sued for damages for giving someone a STD. The amount of damages would depend upon the STD, your conduct in getting the STD, it's impact upon you, and (I'm assuming the giver knew they were exposing the givee to the STD) other factors (did the giver offer to use a condom, or reject the use of a condom, did they intend to spread the misery, etc.).

There may be existing legislation regarding the knowing exposure or transfer of a STD infection, but I am not aware of one. The problem is in drafting the law so you can punish the people giving the disease to others intentionally, and the accidental transmission of the disease. The first situation you WANT to punish. The second situation, you may want to discourage, but you probably don't want to punish. Legislators and health care people are always afraid criminalizing a disease drives people to hide their problem where as a society we want to encourage them to seek treatment. No one will get testing if they think they have a disease if they are afraid that later someone might use it against them later (i.e.- you KNEW you had AIDS in 1995, because you were tested).

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11/02/99, 11:50 pm

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