US: Is spit now a ‘deadly weapon’ in New Mexico?


Man's spit a deadly weapon

June 8, 2009

An HIV-positive man in New Mexico has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after he spat at a police officer, according to a brief report from local TV station, KRQE.

Officers responded to a call that [the man] was trying to kill himself, according to the criminal complaint. However he wasn’t. When police tried to check on him, they said he was hostile, swearing and spitting at them. X is HIV Positive, according to court documents.

New Mexico does not have any HIV-specific laws, and there is no record of any previous arrests or convictions for criminal HIV exposure or transmission. However, a 2007 case (STATE V. NEATHERLIN, 2007-NMCA-035, 141 N.M. 328, 154 P.3d 703) previously established that a bite from someone with hepatitis C was sufficient to be charged and convicted under this this charge, and a 2000 case (STATE V. JONES, 2000-NMCA-047, 129 N.M. 165, 3 P.3d 142) previously established that spitting on a police officer was suficient to be charged and convicted of battery.Last year, neighbouring Texas jailed a 42 year-old man for 35 years (under the third strike rule) and at least a dozen HIV-positive individuals in the US have previously been sent to prison for spitting, most of them on for spitting on a police or prison officer. (See this analysis following the Texas case; since then a woman from Georgia was sentenced to three years and in January 2009 a Pennyslvania woman was charged with a similar ‘crime‘, although there are no reports of her conviction).