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Everyone knows that it is reckless not to inform a partner that you are HIV positive before engaging in consensual sex. But did you know it’s also illegal? In Ohio, exposing a person to HIV without first warning them of potential risks is a crime, if the infected person knows that they have the disease.
There are two major ways that exposing another person to HIV can be considered felonies in Ohio. The first is through engaging in sexual conduct without first informing a partner that they are infected. This is considered a felony assault and criminal exposure in Ohio—even if the person is not ultimately infected. The second is by in some way attacking or assaulting a person with the intent of infecting them with HIV. This could include a sexual assault, but is also much broader in its implications. Sticking a person with a needle used on infected blood could also be considered such an assault. Ohio statute prosecutes such assaults more harshly, labeling them assaults with a deadly weapon—in some cases, these assaults can even be prosecuted as attempted murder.
After informing a potential partner of your HIV positive status, it is much less likely that you can be prosecuted for consensual sex. The only exception is if your partner is under the age of 18 or sufficiently lacking in the needed mental capacity to appreciate their potential risk of exposure to or implications of HIV. In these cases, consent cannot be given, and you can still face felony assault charges.
Of course, there are some behaviors that are illegal, specifically based on your HIV positive status. For example, it is illegal for you to donate blood if you know that you are HIV positive. In addition, it is a crime to cause (or attempt to cause) another person to come into contact with your bodily fluids or waste, including blood, semen, urine, or feces, with intent to harass or annoy if you know that you have HIV, hepatitis, or tuberculosis. This could include spitting at someone, throwing bodily fluids, and even threatening to infect another person, especially if the victim is aware of your infectious disease.
It is possible to live a relatively normal life with HIV nowadays with proper treatment. You may even get an undetectable viral load, making the risk of transmission very small. This does not, however, exempt you from the legal responsibility of disclosing your HIV status in Ohio. If you are accused of violating these HIV transmission laws, you are facing an uphill legal battle, which can culminate with up to eight years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000 if you are convicted.
That’s why it’s so important to take these charges seriously—and to get the support of an experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer aggressively defending you. Call the Columbus criminal attorneys at Luftman, Heck, and Associates today at for a free consultation on your case to find out how we may be able to help.