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Intentionally or willfully transmitting infectious diseases – California Health and Safety Codes HSC 120290

Posted by Raoul Severo | Nov 01, 2020 | 0 Comments

HSC 120290 defines the following as:

  •  “Conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission” means an activity that has a reasonable probability of disease transmission as proven by competent medical or epidemiological evidence. Conduct posing a low or negligible risk of transmission, as proven by competent medical or epidemiological evidence, does not meet the definition of conduct posing a substantial risk of transmission.
  • “Infectious or communicable disease” means a disease that spreads from person to person, directly or indirectly, that has significant public health implications.
  • “Infectious or communicable disease” means a disease that spreads from person to person, directly or indirectly, that has significant public health implications.

A defendant is guilty of intentional transmission of an infectious or communicable disease if all of the following apply:

  • The defendant knows that he or she or a third party is afflicted with an infectious or communicable disease.
  • The defendant acts with the specific intent to transmit or cause an afflicted third party to transmit that disease to another person.
  • The defendant or the afflicted third party engages in conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission to that person.
  • The defendant or the third party transmits the infectious or communicable disease to the other person.
  • If exposure occurs through interaction with the defendant and not a third party, the person exposed to the disease during voluntary interaction with the defendant did not know that the defendant was afflicted with the disease. A person's interaction with the defendant is not involuntary solely on the basis of his or her lack of knowledge that the defendant was afflicted with the disease.

A defendant is also guilty of willful exposure to an infectious or communicable disease if a health officer, or the health officer's designee, acting under circumstances that make securing a quarantine or health officer order infeasible, has instructed the defendant not to engage in particularized conduct that poses a substantial risk of transmission of infectious or communicable disease. The defendant engages in that conduct within 96 hours of the instruction. A health officer, or the health officer's designee, may issue a maximum of two instructions to a defendant that may result in a violation of this law.

Exemptions from HSC 120290

Despite the heavy set of prohibiting standards, there are certain conditions exempted from this law, these are:

This section does not apply to a person who donates an organ or tissue for transplantation or research purposes.

 This section does not apply to a person, whether a paid or volunteer donor, who donates breast milk to a medical center or breast milk bank that receives breast milk for distribution purposes.

Penalties for intentionally transmitting an infectious disease

Under HSC 120290, intentionally spreading communicable diseases, especially when one does so with malicious intent, is a California misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are crimes more serious compared to infractions but less intense than felonies. The act is punishable by:

  • Incarceration in a county jail for up to six (6) months, and/or
  • A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).

Convictions are reflected on a person's permanent criminal records.

Legal Defense

Luckily, there are a few legal conditions that the defendant can use to challenge the accusation; some of these are:

  • The defendant is unaware of his/her condition,
  • The transmission was unintentional, or
  • The disease did not come from the defendant.

Unaware – This condition is used when the person is unaware of any health conditions that he/she may have. The accused is only guilty when he/she knew that he/she had a communicable disease and still chose to do acts that risk infecting others.

Unintentional – This condition is used when the person claims that it was not his/her intention to infect other people with the ailment. The accused is only guilty when he/she willfully, usually with malicious intent, decided to infect other people with his/her condition.

False Accusations – This condition is used when the person claims he/she was not the source of infection. The accused is only guilty when proven that the disease that the plaintiff has contracted came from him/her. Failure to do so can be a significant ground for the defendant's innocence.

Related Offenses

 

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