New York State Court of Appeals
Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer
HIV Positive Saliva
People v. Plunkett
Background: The defendant appealed his conviction for aggravated assault of a police officer. The defendant was indicted on the basis that he attempted to bite a police officer on the finger as the officer attempted to arrest him for possession of marijuana. The defendant was HIV positive and had a long history of psychiatric illness. The prosecution argued that the defendant’s teeth and saliva were dangerous weapons as required for the indictment. The defendant took a plea, although the trial court reserved his right to appeal, given the circumstances of the case.
Ruling: The Court of Appeals vacated the defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault and dismissed the corresponding count of the indictment. The court held that the defendant’s teeth and saliva were parts of him and could not be considered a dangerous instrument.
Audrey Baron Dunning for the appellant; Jeffrey S. Carpenter for the respondent