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Texas


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


Data from the GNP+ Global Criminalisation Scan

Number of prosecutions22
Number of convictions20
Applicable laws

There is no HIV-specific statute in Texas, but alleged HIV exposure and transmission have been most commonly prosecuted under general assault laws.

§ 22.01.  ASSAULT.

(a)  A person commits an offense if the person:

(1)  intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; 
(2)  intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse;  or
(3)  intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

§ 22.02.  AGGRAVATED ASSAULT.

(a)  A person commits an offense if the person commits assault as defined in § 22.01 and the person:

(1)  causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;  or
(2)  uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.

Discussion

Texas has been the location of several high profile HIV-related criminal prosecutions in recent years.

In 2008, a 42 year-old HIV-positive man who spat at a police officer during his 2006 arrest for being drunk and disorderly was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a Dallas court and was told he must serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for parole because the jury found that his saliva was a deadly weapon. His 2009 appeal (see above) was rejected.

In 2009, a 53 year-old man was found guilty of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for apparently infecting six women during concurrent long-term romantic relationships. He was sentenced to 45 years for five counts and 25 years for the remaining count. The case was significant because it was only the third time that phylogenetic analysis had been used in US criminal case to attempt to link the defendant's virus with those of the complainants.  It also received widespread mainstream coverage, including  '20/20' and 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'. 

At the time of our last update, October 2008, we had found 19 prosecutions and 15 convictions. Since then, we are aware of a further three cases relating to HIV non-disclosure prior to sex, all of which resulted in convictions. 

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

Latest cases and news can be found at: http://www.hivjustice.net/country/us/tx-texas/