L.A. District Attorney Drops Charges Against Woman Accused of Prostitution Despite Knowing HIV-Positive Status
The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office yesterday dropped felony charges against Panchita Hall, an HIV-positive woman accused of engaging in prostitution despite knowing her HIV status, the Los Angeles Times reports. The move came as part of a plea bargain agreement shortly before Hall's second trial for the charge was to begin. The first trial ended with a deadlocked jury (Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 9/13). Although prostitution usually carries a misdemeanor charge in California, under a 1988 state law sex workers who know they are HIV-positive can be charged with a felony upon their second arrest. Conviction on such felony charges usually results in a maximum three-year sentence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/23). Deputy District Attorney Lori-Ann Jones had intended to seek a sentence of up to nine years for Hall, who has been convicted of prostitution six times since learning that she was HIV-positive in 1995. Under the plea bargain, which was entered in Compton Superior Court, Hall was sentenced to four years in prison for violating probation stemming from a previous prostitution conviction (Los Angeles Times, 9/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.