I am representing a client in Passaic County who is charged with being a diseased person committing an Act of Sexual Penetration contrary to N.J.S.A 2C:34-5a. The allegation is he knowingly transmitted a disease to his girlfriend.
In New Jersey, it is a crime for anyone who knows that he or she is infected with HIV or another sexually transmitted disease (STD) to expose another person to the disease through sexual or other contact, including biting, or spitting.
Under New Jersey law, exposing another person to any STD (or venereal disease) through sexual contact is a criminal offense. Examples of the STDs include:
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- chancroid (a bacterial infection)
- herpes virus
An individual who knows that he or she is infected with an STD commits a criminal offense in New Jersey by engaging in an act of sexual penetration (vaginal or anal intercourse, cunnilingus and fellatio (oral sex), or the insertion of the hand, finger or object into the anus or vagina) with a sexual partner, if the partner does not know of the infection and, does not give informed consent.
The defendant must act purposely or knowingly. People act purposely when they have a particular goal and knowingly when they understand the nature and consequences of their actions.
For example, a defendant who had unprotected intercourse in order to expose a partner to syphilis has acted purposely. A defendant who does not intend to expose a partner to HIV but who knows that he or she is infected and does not tell his or her partner about the infection, and nonetheless has unprotected sex, has acted knowingly. A defendant who was unaware that he/she had a STD cannot commit a crime.
Therefore, it is a defense to the crime of exposing another to an STD that the victim knew that the defendant was infected and gave informed consent to the exposure. As previously stated, under New Jersey’s law, people who do not know that they are infected cannot be found guilty of this offense.
Generally, the use of condoms is not a defense to the offense criminal exposure, unless the partner was aware that the defendant had the STD.
Knowingly exposing another person to HIV or other viruses that can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Aids) is punishable by three to five years’ imprisonment in State prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Exposing another to any other STD is punishable by up to 18 months’ in State prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Being convicted of exposing another to HIV or another STD can result in time in prison and a fine. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed, or obtain an acquittal or a lesser sentence than the maximum allowed by law. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact our office before you speak with the police and as soon as possible to retain an attorney to help you obtain the best possible outcome.