A 29-year-old California landscaper has been accused of intentionally spreading HIV to dozens of sexual partners, if not hundreds.

Thomas Guerra, who also goes by Ashton Chavez, is alleged to have infected 24 men in the San Diego area, lying to the men that he was HIV-negative before sleeping with them and boasting to his friends via text message that he had actually just infected the unsuspecting partners. In California, “willful exposure of another person to any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease” is considered a misdemeanor, akin to public drunkenness and petty theft, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and six months in local county jail.

"His behavior needs to stop," a man who alleges he was infected by Guerra told CBS News 8. Another, speaking to FOX5, called Guerra a sexual “sociopath” who didn’t understand the true danger of his actions. And it was Guerra’s initial accuser, a man who had dated him for seven months, who said he hopes the misdemeanor charge will be promoted to a felony, which, if upheld, would come with a maximum punishment of eight years in prison.

"His weapon is using his body to infect these people. Why? I don't know why he's doing this. He's forever changing these people's lives and these people have no clue what's happening to them," Guerra's accuser said to CBS.

The charges may fall in line with California state law, but if Guerra’s accusers can prove the harm is potentially permanent, the misdemeanor charge would be reframed as a more serious offense. In the legalese, “acting with specific intent to infect another person with HIV” is a felony charge. Guerra’s accusers plan to use the myriad text messages to uphold their case that Guerra’s actions were intentional.

An important caveat, however, is that knowledge of HIV status alone isn’t proof of intention. Or, by the letter of the law, “evidence that the person had knowledge of his or her HIV-positive status, without additional evidence, shall not be sufficient to prove specific intent.”

The accusers say they have plenty of firepower. "There's hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of text messages where he's talking about intentionally infecting people with HIV," said one, who added that he and Guerra dated for around a year and had even planned to get married one day.

When Guerra appears in court on Tuesday, Sept. 2, he’ll be questioned whether he knew ahead of time what his actions implied. According to the NY Daily News, the attorney’s office said an investigation is ongoing as to whether additional charges will be filed.