Superior Court of New Jersey
621 A.2d 493 (1993)
Gregory Smith (defendant) was an inmate who had been diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Smith often threatened to kill corrections officers by spitting on or biting the officers to infect them with HIV. On the day in question, Smith bit Officer Waddington’s hand, puncturing Waddington’s skin. Smith was charged with attempted murder pursuant to a New Jersey statute providing that a defendant is guilty of an attempted crime if, while acting with the requisite mental state, the defendant purposely does something that would constitute a crime if the circumstances were as a reasonable person would believe them to be. At trial, guards testified that Smith was an extremely violent person who repeatedly voiced threats of infecting the guards with HIV. There was conflicting expert testimony on the issue of whether it was possible to transmit HIV by biting another person. Smith testified that he actually believed HIV could only be transmitted sexually, by blood transfusion, or by needle use and that transmission by a bite was not possible. The trial judge instructed the jury that Smith could be convicted of attempted murder as long as there was evidence that Smith intended to kill Waddington by a bite, regardless of whether it was medically possible to transmit HIV in that way. The jury convicted Smith. Smith appealed, arguing that the judge had erroneously charged the jury with a subjective test and that a conviction could only be sustained if a reasonable person would have believed that a bite could infect another person with HIV and kill that person.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (King, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 222,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,100 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.