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Intentionally Transmitting an Infectious Disease in California

California Health and Safety Code 120290: Intentionally Transmitting an Infectious Disease

Under California Health and Safety Code 120290, it is violation of the law to purposefully transmit an infectious disease to another person. This can be defined in the following scenarios:

  1. “The defendant knows that he or she or a third party is afflicted with an infectious or communicable disease.”
  2. “The defendant acts with the specific intent to transmit or cause an afflicted third party to transmit that disease to another person.”
  3. “The defendant or the afflicted third party engages in conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission to that person.”
  4. “The defendant or the third party transmits the infectious or communicable disease to the other person.”

Offenses can include knowingly passing a sexually transmitted disease to a partner or even sharing needles infected with HIV.

Punishments for Violating Health and Safety Code 120290

Violating this Health and Safety code may result in a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1000.

A defendant can fight against charges under 120290 HS by having no knowledge of the infectious disease, proving no intent to transmit that disease, or simply even if no transmission occurs at all. You can only be guilty of this crime if a disease was actually transmitted. So if there is a way to prove that the disease was not transmitted, or at least not transmitted by the defendant, there is grounds for dismissal. 

What Are Other Related Offenses?

There are three other charges that can be related to Health and Safety Code 120290.  Health and Safety Code 1621.5, Penal Code 12022.85, and Penal Code 243.4.

Health and Safety Code 1621.5

This code makes it a criminal offense to donate blood, organs, semen or breast milk knowing that it is infected with HIV or AIDS. This law pertains to the donation of infectious diseases, rather than transmission. 

Penal Code 12022.85

Enhances sentencing by three years if a person is infected with HIV or AIDS as a result of violation of Health and Safety Code 120290 while committing an act of rape, sodomy or oral copulation with a minor. The three year enhancement of charges goes on top of the time served for the underlying charges. 

Penal Code 243.4

Violation of this penal code and Health and Safety Code 120290 would be that a person knowingly transmitting an infectious disease while also committing sexual battery. Sexual Battery is defined by the touching of another’s genitalia for one’s own gratification. In this case, touching would be the form of conduct that spreads the infectious disease. This can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor offense can lead up to one year in prison and up to $3000 fine. A felony offence can have up to a 4 year prison sentence and fines up to $10,000.

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