U.S. v. Jones, 44 M.J. 103 (C.A.A.F. 1996)

Court and Agency Decisions and Orders (including case law)

This U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) decision affirmed the conviction of Jones, an HIV positive Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, for adultery. He was originally sentenced to a dishonorable discharge, confinement for one year, total forfeitures, and a pay reduction, although the lower Court of Criminal Appeals mitigated the dishonorable discharge to a bad-conduct discharge while affirming the findings.

Jones was diagnosed with HIV following routine blood testing. Although the case report says he was "ordered" to inform future sexual partners that he was HIV positive, he does not appear to have been charged with disobeying a "safe-sex" order. Subsequently, he engaged in sexual intercourse with Mrs. U, the wife of another Marine in his company. Information concerning this affair and the fact that the Jones was HIV positive came to her husband's attention.

After an investigation, Jones was charged with adultery and assault with a means likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm. He said that he used a condom during the sexual intercourse but did not inform Mrs. U that he was HIV positive. The military judge acquitted Jones of the aggravated assault but imposed the maximum punishment for adultery, including dishonorable discharge, stating that he found appellant's conduct to be "outrageous" and referring to his "disregard for the health and safety of an unknown victim."

Jones appealed, contending he was sentenced for an offense he did not commit. The court disagreed: "Although we have stated that an accused should not be treated more harshly simply because he is HIV-positive when his conduct does not risk transmission of the virus, we have also held that an individual may be convicted of aggravated assault even when he uses a condom, if he fails to inform his partner of his condition." The court stated that subjecting Mrs. U to the risk of a fatal disease justified consideration of evidence of Jones's HIV status when imposing the sentence for adultery.
 

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