In 1986, the Florida legislature made it a felony crime, punishable by
up to 5 years in prison for someone with a sexually transmitted disease
to have sexual intercourse with a person before notifying them they have
The law left undefined what was considered to be sexual intercourse, and
this has led to problems with the statute. Several same-sex couples have
been charged with
sex crimes for violating this statute. The rulings in these cases have been at odds
with one another, and these decisions may require the Florida Supreme
Court to intervene.
In one case, a woman was charged with the offense after failing to notify
her partner that she was HIV-positive. In her case, the court used the
definition of sexual intercourse that is present in statutes concerning
incest which states that the interaction must take place between a man
and a woman. Using this definition, the court held that this rule did
not apply to same-sex couples.
A different case involving the same question concerned two men involved
in a relationship. In this case, the court held that the definition of
intercourse was much broader, and did not require a man and a woman, meaning
that this law could apply to same-sex couples. A third case also arrived
at a similar result.
There are very clear implications for those individuals involved in same-sex
relationships charged with these types of crimes. Unless the court or
legislature steps in to define the words in the statute, being charged
with a crime under this law will depend simply upon where a person lives
within the state. It is difficult to determine what exactly will happen
or what defenses may be available in each situation.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, you may find yourself facing
significant penalties if convicted. Depending upon the offense, you may
even have to register as a sex offender after you have completed your
prison sentence. You need to begin preparing a strong defense as soon
as you are aware that you are the target of an investigation.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area to learn
more about the options that are available to you in your specific case.
An attorney can help you understand the evidence that the prosecution
has, and also protect your rights throughout the investigation.
Although no lawyer can guarantee what will happen in a particular case,
working with a lawyer who is a specialist in criminal trial law certainly
means the lawyer has the experience, reputation and knowledge that only
an expert can possess. There is no more serious case than one in which
your freedom is at stake. Make sure you work with a lawyer who knows how
to handle these types of cases.