ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 103 (PN 73) creates a new offense, defined as intentionally or knowingly causing a law enforcement officer to come into contact with saliva or other bodily fluid by throwing, tossing, or spitting the bodily fluid or material. If an individual knew, should have known, or believed such fluid or material came from someone infected by a communicable disease, the offense is graded a felony of the third degree, punishable by 3.5–7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. In any other instance, the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by incarceration for 2.5–5 years and up to $10,000 in fines.
Current law criminalizes contact with bodily fluids only when committed against correctional staff by someone who is incarcerated. HB 103 replicates the bodily fluids offense, but applies it to any person who commits that offense against any law enforcement officer.
Not only would HB 103 needlessly expand the crimes code, it would add yet another offense for police to selectively enforce and for prosecutors to wield when charging a defendant. In our new normal under COVID-19, its communicable disease provision could be weaponized broadly against civilians, including those engaged in First Amendment protected speech, protest, or assembly. And perhaps most troubling, its unscientific assumptions about HIV transmission — rooted in fear, stigma, and ignorance — become grounds to impose unjustifiable and disproportionately severe penalties on people living with HIV.