In the state of Minnesota, it is a crime for a person to knowingly engage in conduct that could result in the transmission of a communicable disease such as HIV to another individual without first disclosing that he or she is infected. Reckless or deliberate transfer of HIV could result in a wide range of criminal charges including misdemeanor charges, felony charges, and even first-degree murder.
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When an individual “knowingly harbors” HIV, under Minnesota law that person is said to have received:
- notification from a physician or other health care professional that he or she is infected.
- information from a doctor or health care provider about the types of behavior that could pass the infection to others.
- instruction about methods to prevent the transmission of the infection.
When prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the individual faces sentencing of up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. If the individual is charged with felony criminal transmission of HIV, he or she faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $45,000, or both. If the victim dies due to the criminal transmission of HIV, first degree murder charges may apply which could result in life behind bars.
Defenses for the Transfer of HIV
When a person is charged with the criminal transfer of HIV in Minnesota, a number of defenses may be pursued by a sex crime attorney in Minneapolis. While each case is unique and various defenses may apply, a few include:
- Lack of Knowledge: The law in Minnesota states that in order to be convicted, the accused must have “knowingly harbored” HIV when the alleged behavior was conducted. If the individual did not receive notification of infection, education about the possibility of transfer, and information about how to prevent transfer from a health care provider, he or she cannot be convicted under Minnesota law.
- Disclosure: If the defendant disclosed his or her HIV infection prior to engaging in willful sexual behavior, he or she cannot be convicted of criminal transfer of a communicable disease in Minnesota.
- Measures of Preventing Transfer: If the accused took precautions recommended by a health care professional to prevent the transmission of HIV, such actions can be used in the defendant’s defense. The use of a latex condom during penetration is one example of this type of defense.