Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). Herpes can be spread by having sex with another person. Currently, there is no cure for genital herpes.

If you give someone an STD, you could be sued for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, it is illegal to knowingly harm another person under Ohio law. Therefore, you could face criminal charges for having sex with someone without telling them you have herpes.

Spreading Herpes Could Result in Assault Charges in Ohio

Two consenting adults having sex is generally not cause for criminal charges. However, if you have herpes or another STD and fail to inform your partner, you could be charged with assault.

Ohio Revised Code §2903.13 defines assault as knowingly causing or attempting to cause another person physical harm. So, how could having herpes result in an assault charge?

First, you have to know that you have herpes and engage in sex with another person. The law does not require that you intentionally try to give herpes to another person. It only requires that you “knowingly” have sex with another person. 

“Knowingly” means that you had sex with another person when you knew you had herpes and that you could cause harm to that person by giving them herpes, but you choose to have sex without informing the person of the risk.

It does not matter whether the person caught herpes from having sex with you. An assault charge does not require you to cause physical harm. You can be charged with assault because you attempted to cause physical harm.

Having unprotected sex when you know you have herpes without telling your partner may be sufficient for a jury to find you attempted to cause harm.

What Is the Penalty for a Herpes Assault Charge in Ohio?

Assault is a first-degree misdemeanor without any aggravating factors. A conviction could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. The criminal penalties would be separate from any civil liability you could face from giving someone herpes.

Spreading HIV Is a Felony in Ohio

Generally, having sex with an STD and not telling your partner would fall under the category of a misdemeanor. However, if you have HIV or another serious STD that could result in death, you could be charged with a felony.

Ohio Revised Code §2903.11 makes it a felony if you:

  • Know that you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus); AND,
  • Engage in sexual conduct with someone without telling that person that you are HIV positive. 

You could also be charged with a felony if you are HIV positive and have sex with a minor or anyone who lacks the mental capacity to understand the risks of unprotected sex, even if you tell them you are HIV positive. Sexual conduct covers a wide range of activities, including intercourse, oral sex, and touching any erogenous zone.

The prosecutor may choose to charge you with one or more felonies, including:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Attempted murder

The penalties depend on the facts of the case and the specific charge. However, a conviction could result in multiple years in prison, substantial fines, and other penalties.

What Should I Do if I Am Arrested for Transmitting an STD?

The state must prove each legal element of the criminal charge against you to obtain a guilty verdict. The prosecutor has the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, that does not mean you should not defend yourself. 

You have the right to legal counsel. As soon as possible, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case. Potential defenses could include:

  • You were not aware that you had herpes or another sexually transmitted disease
  • You did not engage in sexual conduct with the alleged victim
  • You disclosed your STD to the alleged victim before engaging in any sexual conduct
  • You have been falsely accused of transmitting an STD
  • The police officers violated your civil rights 

If the police arrest you for transmitting herpes or another STD, do not resist arrest – that could lead to additional criminal charges. Instead, exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for a lawyer.

It is not in your best interest to talk to the police or a prosecutor without a lawyer present. They already believe you are guilty, so you cannot talk your way out of an arrest. 

If you are released on bail, do not contact the alleged victim or their family or friends. Instead, stay away from the alleged victim and let your attorney handle matters. Your best chance of beating the criminal charges is to listen to your attorney and follow their legal advice.

Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Law Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today

For more information, contact the Criminal Law attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC give us a call today at (513) 333-0014 or visit us at our Cincinnati Law Office.

Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States