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Is It Illegal to Give Someone an STD?

A few of our patients have asked, “Is it illegal to give someone an STD?” Venereal diseases, commonly known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that get transferred between sexual partners. While doctors can cure some STDs, other STDs, like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), remain incurable.

Most US states consider the negligent transmission of an STD a criminal offense. However, not all states do. At Rapid STD Testing, we provide rapid STD tests, same-day STD testing, and a 10-panel STD test to give you peace of mind and ensure that you receive treatment as soon as possible.

Does the Law Require You to Inform Your Sexual Partner About Your STD?

In most of the 50 states, a person may face criminal charges or a civil lawsuit if they fail to inform sexual partners about their STD and the partner contracts a disease due to sexual activity.

Some STDs, like herpes and HIV, prove highly dangerous and even life-threatening because they remain incurable and require lifelong treatment. Depending on the facts of your case and your location, you may file a civil battery lawsuit or a negligence claim if a partner infects you with an STD.

Civil and Criminal STD Cases

If a sexual partner knows about their STD and intentionally infects you, they may be liable for damages in a civil lawsuit. You have the right to file a civil legal action against the sexual partner who transmitted the disease to you.

In some cases, you can file charges for a civil battery lawsuit and seek damages for emotional trauma caused by the threat of exposure to an STD. Intentional, unconsented, and harmful contact can increase the damages recovered in civil court and may lead to criminal charges.

In less egregious cases, you may wish to file a negligence claim, where you have to prove a breach of the legal obligation to act with reasonable caution and care. You will have to provide substantial evidence that your sexual partner had knowledge of their infection with an STD and failed to disclose that information.

Is It Illegal to Knowingly Give Someone an STD?

Is it illegal to knowingly give someone an STD? Can you go to jail for giving someone chlamydia? If you catch chlamydia when cheating, this bacteria may not show symptoms. It can lie dormant for years and produce low-grade infections in monogamous partners. However, you may still face legal action once the doctors detect the disease in your partner. And, staying with someone who gave you an STD does not automatically offer evidence of consent to the transmission.

When Can Civil Lawsuits Be Filed?

It remains unlawful in most states to have sexual contact with your partner if you know you have an STD and do not disclose it. To sue someone for giving you STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, herpes, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, you file a petition in civil court.

Civil lawsuits allow you to receive fair compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial harm you suffered after contracting the STD. If you lose your case as a defendant, you must pay monetary damages for your partner’s medical treatment, therapy, loss of time at work, injuries, and more.

When Can It Be Considered a Criminal Charge?

The answer to the question, “Is it illegal to give someone an STD?” differs throughout the United States. Whether the intentional, reckless, or negligent transmission of an STD constitutes a criminal offense depends on the state.

California

Under California Health and Safety Code Section 120290, you can face criminal charges for giving another person an infectious or communicable disease when you:

  • Know that you are afflicted with an infectious or communicable disease
  • Act with the specific intent to transmit the disease
  • Engage in sexual conduct to transmit the disease
  • Successfully transmit the disease to the other person

The state has every right to charge you and pursue a conviction for behaving in a way that presents a danger to society.

Arizona

In Arizona, a person can face criminal charges for transmitting any contagious or infectious disease, including sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, herpes, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

Florida

In Florida, laws regarding the criminal transmission of STDs apply to:

  •     HIV
  •     Chlamydia
  •     Nongonococcal urethritis
  •     Chancroid
  •     Gonorrhea
  •     Lymphogranuloma venereum
  •     Genital herpes
  •     Pelvic inflammatory disease
  •     Granuloma inguinale
  •     Acute salpingitis
  •     Syphilis

Georgia

Under Georgia Code section 16-5-60, the state law creates criminal penalties for specific types of STD transmissions, such as when a person with hepatitis or HIV participates in certain kinds of sexual activity. An individual who recklessly or intentionally infects another person with an STD not listed in the state statute could still be charged with other crimes, like assault.

Illinois

In Illinois, if you know you are HIV-positive, it is criminal to engage in certain types of sexual activity without informing your partner of your disease.

Indiana

In Indiana, only specific activities subject the transmitter to criminal charges. Felonies are classified between Levels 1 and 6, with Level 1 representing the most dangerous offense.

Michigan

Under Michigan law, it is a crime for a person who knows they have AIDS or HIV to have sex with another person without disclosing the infection. Additionally, the deliberate or reckless transmission of herpes, gonorrhea, or syphilis is chargeable as an aggravated assault or battery.

Montana

Under Montana Code Annotated 45-2-101 and 50-18-112, it is a crime for people who know they have an STD to expose another person to it. The law applies to diseases transmitted via sexual contact, unprotected sexual contact, and needle sharing.

Nebraska

Under Nebraska’s Revised Statutes 28-109, 28-308, and 28-310, a person who transmits an STD in Nebraska will face charges under Nebraska’s assault statute. Misdemeanor assault is a crime committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly that inflicts bodily injury, including physical pain or impairment.

The crime of felony assault is an act committed intentionally or knowingly that inflicts serious bodily injury. Any injury that involves a lasting impairment or risk of death is a serious bodily injury.

For example, the transmissions of HIV or herpes, which prove life-threatening and incurable, fall into the category of serious bodily injury. Transmission of gonorrhea, on the other hand, falls under bodily injury.

Penalties for Knowingly Transmitting an STD

Is spreading STDs illegal? By law, if the jury finds you guilty of knowingly or recklessly transmitting an STD, you face a criminal penalty.

Fines

Misdemeanor fines for crimes related to the transmission of an STD can cost you up to $1,000. In some states, felony fines cost as much as $50,000.

Jail

A felony conviction can result in a sentence of one year or more in prison. A misdemeanor conviction for transmission of an STD carries a penalty of up 12 months in jail. In a few states, a person who knowingly transmits HIV can receive a life sentence in prison.

Sex Offender Registration

Courts often require a person found guilty of the criminal transmission of an STD often to sign up for the state’s sex offender registry. The sex offender registration list can hold that person’s name for 25 years or longer, making it difficult for them to find housing and work.

Restitution

Restitution payments go to victims who have suffered due to the recklessness or negligence of their partner. Restitution compensates them for the losses they have incurred, such as those related to medical treatment, therapy, loss of time at work, injuries, and much more.

Probation

The court can sentence a person guilty of the unlawful transmission of an STD to a probation term. Probation lasts from about one to three years.

Types of Damages for STD-related Charges

Is it illegal to transmit an STD? If you know you have an STD, then it might be illegal to fail to disclose it to your sexual partner. However, it can prove very challenging to gather proof of the damages caused by an STD. STDs do not always develop immediately, and your body may not show any signs for a long time. If you happen to have other sexual partners during this time, it will complicate the situation further.

Some of the different types of damages for STD-related charges include:

  • Pain and suffering ㅡ Monetary damages to compensate for the pain felt
  • Medical expenses ㅡ Expenses related to medical costs for treating the STD
  • Emotional distress ㅡ Damages related to the fear and anxiety felt after learning you contracted the STD

Practicing Responsible and Safe Sex

Taking STD tests once a year allows you to practice responsible, safe sex. If you have multiple partners, then it remains advisable to undergo frequent testing. You should also go for a test if:

  •         You might start having sex with someone new
  •         You decide to forego barrier protection
  •         Your partner cheats on you
  •         You show symptoms of an STI

How to Practice Safer Sex

You can minimize transmission by practicing safer sex. Have an honest talk with your sexual partner. Make sure to remain truthful about your sexual history. Avoid having sex when you are drunk or high and use a latex or polyurethane barrier for all types of sex.

Try to urinate after sex to avoid the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Additionally, you can get the human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccines to stay safe.

Open Communication

Why do you need to tell your partner if you have an STD? STDs cause serious health problems, lower the chances of having babies in the future, and can become life-threatening if not found and treated on time. By remaining honest, you allow your partner to make an informed decision about their health and give them a chance to get checked and treated.

Safe Practices

Always remember to rinse your body after sex to remove any infectious material from your skin. Visit a doctor if you see the following signs and symptoms:

  •     Discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
  •     Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  •     Pain during sex
  •     Itching or burning sensation in the genital region
  •     Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
  •     Bumps and sores
  •     Changes in urination

Know Your Status

Is it illegal to give someone an STD? It depends on the circumstances, but many states have laws that make it a criminal offense to willingly transmit an STD. Stay informed on your sexual health by scheduling annual screenings at a Rapid STD Testing near you. We keep your results private, confidential, and quick.

Are you looking to take an STD test as soon as possible? Call Rapid STD Testing at (866) 872-1888 to speak with a health specialist today.