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Proposed legislation in California may change sex crimes laws

Currently, a person in California who has tested positive for HIV and has unprotected sex with another person without first informing that person of the condition may face a felony charge in criminal court. However, state legislators are considering a change to the sex crimes statutes. If passed, the crime will be reclassified.

The pending legislation would change it to a misdemeanor. This downgrade would also apply to anyone donating blood or semen without first informing officials of an existing HIV condition. Authors of the bill argue that criminalizing human immunodeficiency virus (which is a precursor to AIDS) creates a stigma that causes people to remain untreated because they are afraid to get tested.

Advocates of the proposed legislation say the change in status would encourage more people to get the care they need when suffering from the condition, which could also ultimately lower the numbers of infection throughout the state and nation. Senator Scott Wiener, from San Francisco, is the prime author of the bill. He said it is time to stop making HIV-positive people feel like they must live in the shadows.

Being accused of sex crimes is never a small matter, whether a particular situation has to do with unprotected sex and HIV or some other issue. Obtaining help from an experienced criminal defense attorney is often key to protecting one's rights and preserving one's freedom when facing criminal charges in court. If a California resident has questions or concerns about a specific issue, a consultation with a defense attorney can provide answers and guidance.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Under New California Bill, Having Unprotected Sex Without Telling Partner of HIV-Positive Status Would No Longer Be a Felony", March 17, 2017

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