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Senate committee tackles criminalization of flinging body fluids, spitting

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6 2013 6:10 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Spitting on another person could be charged as a class A misdemeanor offense under specific circumstances in a bill endorsed Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

SB98, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, says a spitter who knows they are infected with HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C and their saliva comes in contact with another person's face or open wound could be charged with the enhanced penalty.

The bill also creates a class B offense for propelling a bodily substance at another person. Jaycee Skinner, director of the Utah Sentencing Commission, said the state assault statute also criminalizes spitting as a class B misdemeanor.

"The fact that it's already a class B just appalls me. That's terrible," said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, who cast the lone committee vote against the bill.

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee also gave a favorable recommendation to SB97, which adds "vomit and infectious agent" to a list of substances that are illegal to propel at law officers' faces, eyes, mouths or any open wounds. The bill was also sponsored by Stevenson.

The crime is punishable as a third-degree felony. Other substances include blood, urine and fecal matter.

Marjorie Cortez

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