Saturday, December 7, 2013

Florida courts differ on the meaning of sexual intercourse for HIV statute

The term "sexual intercourse," left undefined in HIV statute, has led to various interpretations in decisions by courts in Florida.
December 07, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In 1986, the Florida legislature made it a felony crime, punishable by up to 5 years in prison for someone with a sexually transmitted disease to have sexual intercourse with a person before notifying them they have the disease.
The law left undefined what was considered to be sexual intercourse, and this has led to problems with the statute. Several same-sex couples have been charged with sex crimes for violating this statute. The rulings in these cases have been at odds with one another, and these decisions may require the Florida Supreme Court to intervene.
In one case, a woman was charged with the offense after failing to notify her partner that she was HIV-positive. In her case, the court used the definition of sexual intercourse that is present in statutes concerning incest which states that the interaction must take place between a man and a woman. Using this definition, the court held that this rule did not apply to same-sex couples.
A different case involving the same question concerned two men involved in a relationship. In this case, the court held that the definition of intercourse was much broader, and did not require a man and a woman, meaning that this law could apply to same-sex couples. A third case also arrived at a similar result.
There are very clear implications for those individuals involved in same-sex relationships charged with these types of crimes. Unless the court or legislature steps in to define the words in the statute, being charged with a crime under this law will depend simply upon where a person lives within the state. It is difficult to determine what exactly will happen or what defenses may be available in each situation.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, you may find yourself facing significant penalties if convicted. Depending upon the offense, you may even have to register as a sex offender after you have completed your prison sentence. You need to begin preparing a strong defense as soon as you are aware that you are the target of an investigation.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to learn more about the options that are available to you in your specific case. An attorney can help you understand the evidence that the prosecution has, and also protect your rights throughout the investigation.
Although no lawyer can guarantee what will happen in a particular case, working with a lawyer who is a specialist in criminal trial law certainly means the lawyer has the experience, reputation and knowledge that only an expert can possess. There is no more serious case than one in which your freedom is at stake. Make sure you work with a lawyer who knows how to handle these types of cases.
Article provided by Rothman & Associates, P.A.
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