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Kentucky


For information on getting involved in HIV criminalization reform advocacy in Kentucky, please email info@seroproject.com.


Data from the GNP+ Global Criminalisation Scan

Number of prosecutions8
Applicable laws

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 311.990 (24)(b)

Any person infected with HIV – knowing that he or she is infected and having been informed of the possibility of communicating the infection by donating human organs, skin or other human tissues – who donates organs, skin or other human tissue is guilty of a class D felony.

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 529.090(3) & (4)

Any person who commits, offers, agrees to commit or procures another to commit prostitution by engaging in sexual activity in a manner likely to transmit HIV and who, prior to the commission of the crime, had tested positive for HIV and knew or had been informed that he or she had tested positive and could possibly communicate the disease to another through sexual activity, is guilty of a class D felony.

A Class D felony is punishable by one to five years in prison and a $1,000- $10,000 fine

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508.070 (1) & (2)

A person is guilty of wanton endangerment in the second degree when he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of physical injury to another person. Wanton endangerment in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

A Class A misdemeanor is also punishable by one to five years in prison and a $1,000- $10,000 fine.

Discussion

Neither the intent to transmit HIV nor actual transmission is required for prosecution for wanton endangerment. Because the defendant in Hancock pleaded guilty, there is no jurisprudence on how condoms or other protection during sexual intercourse or evidence of a defendant’s low viral load would factor into a prosecution for wanton endangerment, although it certainly could be argued that those factors reduce the risk to below that of the statutory “substantial danger” standard.

Excerpted from: Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011).

According to information collected by SERO charges have been laid using Kentucky's HIV-specific criminal statute six times since 2005. (Source: Kentucky State Police) This is likely related only to sex work whilst HIV-positive or donating blood or organs whilst HIV-positive and not to wanton endangerment charges, which is non-HIV-specific. 

We know of at least two cases that have used the wanton endangerment statute to prosecute alleged HIV exposure.  The case above and a case in April 2008 where a woman with HIV bit a store clerk while robbing the store. The clerk tested HIV-negative.  She was sentenced to 12 years in prison of which 2 years was for wanton endangerment (for biting whilst HIV-positive).  She had originally been charged for attempted murder for the bite.  (See Criminal HIV Transmission for details)

Further reading

Positive Justice Project. Ending & Defending Against HIV Criminalization, A  Manual For Advocates: Vol 1 States and Federal Laws and Prosecutions. Center for HIV Law and Policy, New York. Fall 2010 (with additional laws and cases through December 2011).

Recent cases can be found at: Positive Justice Project. Prosecutions and Arrests for HIV Exposure in the United States, 2008–2012. Center for HIV Law and Policy, 2012.

Further cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/us/ky-kentucky/