Police have announced that a suspect who had been charged with three counts of rape in Philadelphia is HIV-positive. The incident warrants a closer look at the additional charges someone can face for a sex crime if they have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Philadelphia Rape Suspect Confirmed to Have HIV
Philadelphia police recently arrested a man that they believe is connected to a handful of rapes and sexual assaults in Philadelphia's Point Breeze neighborhood, going back until at least May 2018. The suspect has been working as a laborer for the Philadelphia Streets Department.
According to police, the suspect would follow the alleged victims to their home late at night before asking for a hug or a kiss and then attack them. A string of similar assaults happened in the area in December 2018. Police think that the suspect might be behind a total of nine assaults or attempted assaults, but have only charged him with three counts of rape and one count of indecent assault.
Now, local Philadelphia media are reporting that the suspect – who has still not been convicted of anything – is HIV-positive and urging other potential victims to come forward for testing.
Setting aside the continued tendency of police and the media to jump to conclusions about a suspect's guilt, having an STD can lead to additional criminal charges after a sexual offense in Pennsylvania.
Aggravated Assault Charges for Defendants With STDs
In Pennsylvania, people with an STD who have been accused of a sexual crime that risks infecting the alleged victim could face the additional criminal charge of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault, outlined in Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2702, involves attempting to cause “serious bodily injury” to someone else “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
Prosecutors can pursue these charges on the idea that transmitting an STD rises to the level of a “serious bodily injury,” and the incident shows the requisite “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”
These are first-degree felony charges – reserved for the most serious of criminal offenses in the state – and carry 10 to 20 years in jail, along with a fine of up to $25,000.
Reckless Endangerment Charges
Defendants with STDs can also face an additional charge for reckless endangerment. Less severe, but also easier to prove, than a charge for aggravated assault, reckless endangerment involves recklessly putting someone else in danger of death or serious bodily injury under Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2705.
These charges are second-degree misdemeanors that come with one to two years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
These charges for aggravated assault or reckless endangerment would come in addition to the underlying sex offense, adding to an already high-stakes journey through the criminal justice system.
Criminal defense lawyer Joseph D. Lento can be your best option if you have been accused of a sex crime and have an STD that could aggravate the offense. Contact him online or call his law office in Philadelphia at (215) 535-5353.