California Health and Safety Code Section 1621.5(a) HSC: Donating Blood with Knowledge of AIDS

1. Definition and Elements of the CrimeAIDS blood donation

While great advances have been made in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, these diseases are still deadly and can be easily transmitted through blood or other bodily fluids. As a result, people who are HIV positive or who have AIDS could cause substantial harm if they donated blood, organs, tissues, semen or other bodily fluids. Under California Health & Safety Code Section 1621.5(a), donating blood with the knowledge of having AIDS is a criminal offense that can result in serious penalties.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of donating blood or other bodily material with the knowledge that he or she had AIDS, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements:

  1. The defendant donated blood, body organs, or other tissue

  2. OR the defendant donated semen to any medical center or semen bank that receives semen for purposes of artificial insemination

  3. OR the defendant donated breast milk to any medical center of breast milk bank that receives breast milk for purposes of distribution

  4. AND the defendant was a paid or unpaid volunteer donor

  5. AND the defendant knew that he or she had acquired immune deficiency syndrome or that he or she had tested reactive to the etiologic agent of AIDS or to the antibodies to that agent.
2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Exposing Others to the HIV Virus through Sexual ActivityCalifornia Health & Safety Code Section 120291 HSC

  2. Exposing Others to Communicable Diseases – California Health & Safety Code Section 120290 HSC
3. Examples

A man wants to donate plasma to earn some extra money. He knows he is HIV positive, however he does not disclose this to the clinic when he has the blood taken from him. This man could be charged with donating blood with knowledge of being HIV positive in violation of California Health & Safety Code Section 1621.5(a) HSC.

In another example, after a major emergency a blood drive is set up in order to replenish blood supplies. A woman wants to donate blood and goes to the blood drive in order to participate. Although the woman does not know it, she is HIV positive as she has recently contracted the HIV virus and has not been tested. The woman goes to the blood drive and donates a pint of her blood. This woman would not be criminally liable under California Health & Safety Code Section 1621.5(a) HSC because she had no knowledge that she was HIV positive.

4. Defenses to Donating Blood with Knowledge of AIDS

As described above, if the defendant did not actually know that he or she was HIV positive or had AIDS, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. The defendant must actually be aware of their HIV status in order to be criminally liable.

There may be circumstances in which a person donates blood, tissue or other bodily fluids even though they know they are HIV positive or have AIDS, but do so because of a critical medical emergency that would result in the death of another person if the blood or other material is not donated. In these cases, the defendant may be able to assert a necessity defense if charged criminally. As long as the defendant did not conceal his or her condition, he or she would not be guilty of a crime in this situation.

5. Penalties

Donating blood or other bodily fluids or tissues with knowledge of AIDS or a HIV positive status is a felony offense. Those convicted of this crime can be sentenced to serve up to six years in prison.

6. Criminal Defense for Donating Blood with Knowledge of AIDS Cases

If you or someone you know have been charged with donating blood with knowledge of AIDS or an HIV positive status, it is very important that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut knows how to effectively defend clients charged with offenses like this. Mr. Kraut understands the sensitive nature of this charge and works hard to ensure his clients’ rights are absolutely protected.

For more information about donating blood with knowledge of AIDS or HIV, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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