Apparently the police do not mind using a criminal law that has been proved to be outdated and based on faulty medical presumptions. Recently, in a Louisiana case a Lake Charles man was arrested and charged with a crime for spitting on a police officer. Authorities charged him with intentional exposure of the Aids virus, which carries a maximum 11-year prison sentence.
While the district attorney of Calcasieu Parish called this a serious felony and explained that intentional ‘exposure’ is all that’s required, the director of client services of the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council indicated that the law is outdated and based on false medical presumptions. She explained that current medical science has established that the virus is transmitted by sexual contact or through the blood such as by sharing needles or getting an infected transfusion. She stated that there is no danger in spitting on someone, kissing someone or even eating or drinking from the same servings.
The foregoing is true because the virus lives only in bloods, sexual fluids and breast milk. This begs the question as to how the police can continue to prosecute and imprison people for spitting and similar acts that carry no danger of exposure. There’s a gap between medical science and the popular urban legends adopted by Louisiana and other states with similar statutes.
The accused may benefit from a criminal defense which challenges the constitutionality of the law on due process grounds. If exposure is impossible by means of spitting, then the crime is based on a factual impossibility. Furthermore, he may argue that if exposure cannot be transmitted by spitting, then he could not have intended to expose the officer to the disease.
A person charged with a crime in Louisiana is probably constitutionally protected from being prosecuted for an offense that it’s factually impossible to commit. That defense, however, would probably be expensive due to the need to present expert medical testimony establishing that spitting cannot transmit the virus. Based on these arguments, however, it may be possible to negotiate a reasonable resolution with authorities. In any event, the accused will benefit from an early consultation with counsel to find out what options may be feasible and available.
Source: kplctv.com, “Lake Charles man accused of intentional AIDS exposure,” Gerron Jordan, May 20, 2013