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HIV Positive Defendant Charged With Biting Victim

The parties of the case had a quarrel between them wherein the defendant had bitten the complainant during their squabble. A New York Criminal Lawyer said the People filed a motion to order the removal from medical records and non-disclosure of the HIV status of the victim from the defendant. The ground for such an order is based on the complainant’s right to privacy and confidentiality as opposed to the right of information by the defendant.

The court held that grant of the order to redact all references to the HIV status of the private complainant but sought to inform the defendant of such through a physician or health officer. The court ruled that the defense lawyer has the prerogative to disclose the sensitive information to his client but recommended that it be made through a medical doctor or health official.

The parties are residents at an apartment building and both lived in the same floor. In one incident, the defendant thrown anti-gay expressions towards the complainant and subsequently punched the victim’s face and body. Later, the parties had another argument that resulted to the biting of the defendant over the shirt of the complainant which caused the latter’s skin to break. The accused was also alleged to have possession of a knife and that he pushed himself inside the complainant’s apartment. The sister of the victim called 911 who informed the medical attendants that her brother is with HIV and such information was written down in his medical records during his medical treatment at the hospital.

The offender was arrested and indicted for several penal crimes such as assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal trespass.

During the discovery process, the prosecutors handed over to the defense counsel the medical report of the complainant which contained information about his HIV status. The defense attorney learned of the matter, thus, returned the original medical report to the prosecution and asked for another record which did not include reference of the HIV status of the complainant. Hence, the filing of an “ex parte motion” for a protective order by the prosecution before the court to omit the victim’s HIV status in the medical records and to disallow the defense lawyer from disclosing such fact with the latter’s client. On the grounds of public scrutiny, discrimination and potential physical attack and which could jeopardize the career of the complainant were among the reasons why the motion was filed the prosecutrion.

As provided in a particular statute, “no person who obtains confidential HIV related information in the course of providing any health or social service or pursuant to a release of confidential HIV related information may disclose or be compelled to disclose such information …” And it further stated that “Additionally, no person who receives confidential HIV information is allowed to disclose the information unless authorized.” The purpose of such law was to allow people to take HIV test without any worry as to discrimination and to protect the person’s right to privacy. But the law also provided the court discretion for the disclosure of such information when there is “a clear and imminent danger to an individual whose life or health may unknowingly be at significant risk …”

A Long Island Criminal Lawyer said the main issue to be resolved in the case at hand is the balance between the rights of privacy of the infected individual as against the right of the person to know so that he could be tested and treated.

The imminent danger being pertained by the statute is in favor of the unknowing person whose health is at risk for failure to be informed of his potential HIV infection that would require medical treatment. Therefore, disclosure must be made to unknowing individual in any case.

Consequently, the court granted the protective order to redact the information in the medical report and other pertinent documents but such information should be disclosed to the defendant through a physician or health officer.

The constitution provides the primordial rights of every individual are entitled to have and such rights must be protected at all cause especially before the court. If you are a defendant or an accused facing charges, whether it is for assault, drug possession or sex crimes, you must hire a counsel to ensure that your rights are upheld and at Stephen Bilkis and Associates we provide legal services through our competent and experienced lawyers that are of service to your cause.

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