Iowa Court Ruling Sets Precedent for HIV Transmission Cases

Jun 13, 2014

The Iowa State Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of an Iowa man who pleaded guilty to the criminal transmission of HIV in 2009. Nick Rhoades was originally sentenced to 25 years in prison and convicted as a Class B Felon.

In a decision that was issued this morning, six of seven judges concluded that Rhoades did not intentionally expose another man to HIV.  

There are 34 other states that criminalize the transmission of the virus. Lambda Legal’s Christopher Clark argued Rhoades’ case before the court and says this decision sets precedent. "This is an important part of an effort to bring current understanding of how HIV is transmitted to the law, and so we're looking forward to expanding upon this win in other states."

Since Iowa passed its HIV criminalization statute in the early 1990’s, there have been fifteen people convicted. Clark says the decision to throw out Rhoades’ conviction could have implications for some of those cases.  

Last month, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill that updates the HIV transmission law under which Rhoades was originally charged.