California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections

What is California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections?

California law makes it a crime to deliberately put another person at risk of a disease that you currently hold.  This law is codified in the law books as California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections.  Specifically, California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections applies to diseases that are transmissible.

California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections currently applies to all and every infectious disease.  But California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections is a unique law in the sense that no courts in California have written any published opinions about the law.  However, it is generally considered that law enforcement and the California courts will not apply the California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections law to somebody suffering from something simple like a cold.  Law enforcement and the courts will likely apply the law to somebody with a communicable disease that has more harmful symptoms and repercussions.

In civil court, there have been cases for Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections involving Herpes and HIV.  Aspects of a case that judges and courts look for tend to be: whether the disease has particularly harmful effects, whether the disease is incurable, whether you told your partner about the disease, and/or whether you took any preventative measures to protect your sexual partner from obtaining the disease.  Note, these are simply factors that the government is looking for.  But the actual criteria for what creates liability have not been established by the courts or the legislature yet.  Liability is still a grey area as the California courts have not weighed any opinions on the law.

What is the legal description of California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections?

In the section above, we briefly described the overall character of California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections.  But we believe it is important that you take a moment and read this section as well.  Here, we will discuss the legal meaning and nuances of California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections.  This is important for a variety of reasons.  First, the legal description of California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections sets forth what will be the likely important issues in your criminal prosecution.  Based on what the law demands, your attorney will search for evidence that will exculpate you.  Second, based on the important issues contained within the meaning of the law, the prosecutor will decide whether or not they have a good case against you.  Naturally, your attorney will be trying to convince them they do not.  If they have a good case on the important issues, they will be more likely to push a stricter punishment with the judge.  However, if your attorney can convince them their case is weak, the prosecutor might reduce the punishment or drop the charge entirely.  Hence, the important issues form the center-point in which all negotiation, debate, and argumentation occurs between your attorney and the prosecutor.  Third, we believe you should be as educated as possible when it comes to your case.  By knowing the law, you might be able to point out something to us we may not have seen.  Because we believe in open and consistent communication, our clients often point us towards a defense or alibi that breaks open their case.  In other words, if you are educated on the laws that affect your case, you will be better able to help us help you.

There are three main ways you can be convicted of a criminal charge in the state of California.  One, you can formally confess.  Two, you can choose to accept a plea bargain offered by the prosecutor overseeing your case.  Third, you are convicted in a formal hearing where a judge or jury makes a final decision regarding guilt or innocence.  In this last way, you cannot be convicted of a crime unless the prosecutor proves their case against you.  To do this, they must prove all of the elements of the crime in which you are charged.  An element is simply a fact related to the crime.  Each element needs to be proven up to a particular level of certainty.  For a California crime, each element needs to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  If the case against you is strong, a prosecutor will be less likely to offer a deal.  But if it’s weak, the prosecutor will be more amenable to negotiation.  Remember, the prosecutor must prove all of the elements.  So even if their case is strong as a whole, but weak on just one element, they cannot win their case and will have to consider dropping their case.  For this reason, your attorney will focus on building the evidence in your favor on the important issues, which are discussed below.  If they can cast doubt on even just one element, you will have a chance at beating the charge.

(Note: remember that juries are comprised of everyday people.  This means that even though you might have a strong case, a jury may not give you the benefit of the doubt.  If you are lucky, they might give you the benefit of doubt!  It depends on the jury and on the person.  Hence, deciding on accepting a plea offer is an extremely personal decision.  You want an attorney who will openly and honestly talk you through the possible options and possibilities.  Furthermore, you want an attorney who has trial experience.  An attorney who can pick the best juries and be the most persuasive will give you the best chance on fighting criminal charges in the long run).

The elements for California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections are as follows:

  1. You have an infectious, communicable, or transmittable disease.
  2. You knew about the potential risks of the disease.
  3. You deliberately exposed another person to that disease.

Disease

As discussed above, it is unlikely that law enforcement will pursue you for a case involving a cold or the flu.  This is not guaranteed because the courts have no published criminal law opinions on this case.  But it is generally considered that the courts will only apply California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections towards more serious or incurable diseases.  However, if the victim is particularly susceptible, then this might be a different story.  For example, if you deliberately gave another a person who had a cold, when they are suffering immune-deficiency, this law gives room for prosecutors to pursue such a case.

Knowledge

Before you can be convicted of California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections, the prosecutor has to prove that you knew about the disease.  But this does not mean you can avoid criminal liability by avoiding obtaining a medical diagnosis for the disease.  Hence, you can still get in trouble if you are never fully sure of the disease because you avoided a test like an STD check. 

In other words, California law under California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections mandates that you only know of any potential risk.  The actual test is whether a prudent, reasonable person in same or similar circumstances would have realized that there were risks.  Whether something is deemed as reasonable depends greatly on the jury and the individual facts of your case.  For example, if you recently were involved in large amounts of unprotected sex and you noticed lesions on your genitalia, then it is likely the court will conclude that it was reasonable for you to know if there were any potential risks with sleeping with another person.  Hence, it won’t matter if you did not obtain any STD test or get a diagnosis from a doctor to confirm that you have a particular disease.  On the other hand, if you recently got out of a bad relationship, where your ex was secretly cheating on you, and therefore obtained an STD without your knowledge, and you spread the disease to a new partner, then it is unlikely the court will find that it was reasonable that you knew about any potential risks.  To summarize, even if you did not have an STD test, you could be liable under California H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections if you experienced clear symptoms of a disease or if you just happened to know that you had the disease for some other reason.

Also, the jury in your case can greatly affect what is deemed reasonable.  If a jury member is a conservative Christian who does not believe in pre-marital sex, it is more likely they’ll find lack of knowledge about an STD unreasonable.  However, if the jury member is a cosmopolitan young person, then you might have a better chance of them finding your lack of knowledge reasonable.  As you can see, the jury that is picked can greatly affect how your case turns out.  For this reason, you need to get an attorney experienced in trial and in picking juries.  A skilled attorney, experience at jury picking, can make a losing case into a winning one.

What are the potential punishments for a conviction under H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections?

A conviction under H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections will be classified as a misdemeanor.  Hence, if you are charged with H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections, then it is likely the case will be pursued by the City Attorney’s Office (felonies are usually pursued by the District Attorney’s Office).  If convicted of H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections, you could receive any or all of the following punishments: a maximum of half a year in a county jail and/or a maximum sanction of one thousand dollars.

Related Offenses to H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections

California H & S Code 120291 HS: Purposeful Transmission of HIV-AIDS

Under this law, California prohibits exposing someone else to HIV by participating in unprotected sexual intercourse.  To be convicted under this law, you must have had knowledge (during the time you had the unprotected sexual intercourse) that you had HIV, you must have not shared the fact that you had HIV with the person you were having sex with, AND you purposefully had the sex in order to give the other person HIV.

If convicted under this law, you could potentially receive a sentence of up to 8 years in state prison time.

For your case to meet the criteria of this law, you must have participated in “unprotected sexual intercourse.”  Under this law, sex is defined broadly and inclusively.  Hence, sex will encompass both vaginal or anal sexual activity.  Sex is considered to be unprotected if there was no condom used.  Note, oral sex will not expose you to liability under this law.

It is also important to remember that the prosecutor has to prove that you had the intention of spreading HIV to the alleged victim.  The fact that you know you had HIV at the time of the sex is not by itself enough evidence to show that you had such an intention.  However, there are currently no published criminal court cases from California interpreting what exactly “intent” is under this law.

It is important to point out that this law maintains one major difference with H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections.  There is no requirement that you intentionally expose the disease with H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections.

California H & S 1621.5 HS – Medical Donation by Someone with HIV

This law makes it a crime to donate blood, organs, semen, or even breast milk if you know you have HIV.  Note, the prosecutor must prove that you made such a donation with the intention of spreading the disease.  However, there is no liability for blood donated for your own storage or use.  If convicted under this law, you potentially could be sentenced with a maximum of 6 months in a county jail.

What should I do if I am charged with H & S Code 120290 HS Deliberate Exposure to Communicable Infections?

The best thing you can do is hire a skilled and experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney as quickly as possible.  We know this sounds cliché.  But there are many reasons why hiring an attorney early, or even preventively, is advantageous.  First, a talented attorney can work to prevent charges from being filed in the first place.  After a crime is reported, there is usually a period of time before prosecutors decide to file charges.  The police and prosecutors are conducting an investigation in this time.  Your attorney can show them evidence they might not otherwise see.  Or bring up aspects of the case they would not otherwise consider.  In many cases, a skilled California Criminal defense attorney can get a case dismissed before any charges are filed.  This is especially true with a crime, such as H & S Code 120290 HS, where the cases are usually dubiously based on inaccurate testimony of witnesses   And in certain cases, you can avoid a formal arrest on your record as well.  Second, evidence can become stale or disappear the longer you wait.  Witnesses might move or forget information that is necessary to defend your case.  For example, alibis are usually easier to develop when memories are fresh.  It’s hard to prove where a person was months after.  Third, the best defense is one that prepares for the long run.  Some attorneys deal with your case on a fleeting basis.  We approach each case as if it’s going to trial.  Even though most cases don’t go to trial, judges and prosecutors can instantly tell which attorneys are ready to do so if they need to.  Hence, prepared attorneys get better deals from prosecutors and more benefit of the doubt from judges.  This strategy results in better outcomes for our clients.

We know you have many questions.  And you must be worried about the effect criminal charges will have on you, your life, and your family.  After all, a criminal conviction can affect your employment and could take you away from your family.  We invite you to come talk to us for a free consultation.  We will happily go over your case and answer any questions about what sorts of defenses are available, what the potential punishments are, and what the big issues will be in your case. 

For a free consultation, call one of our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer at 424-333-0943.

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