Generally, when referring to “fetal abuse,” one is discussing abuse to a fetus by the by a pregnant mother which rises to the level of a criminal act. Consequently, if an individual endangers the fetus, the individual may face criminal charges. Any type of fetal abuse occurs when there is damage done to the fetus causing fetal endangerment. Conversely, if a woman obtains proper prenatal care, takes all sorts of pre-birth classes, has gender analysis testing, medical testing and takes care of herself and the child, there is no fetal abuse issue.
What is Considered Fetal Abuse?
There are various types of fetal abuse. However, most fetal abuse statutes are primarily aimed at the abuse caused by substances. The following is a list of the most common types of fetal abuses:
- fetal alcohol syndrome (the ingestion of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy resulting in the baby’s addiction to alcohol upon birth, causing low birth weight and medical complications)
- taking drugs while pregnant, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other “street” drugs
- failure to obtain prenatal care
Liability for Fetal Abuse Injuries
If a mother engages in substance abuse when pregnant, there is a possibility that the mother will face criminal charges for abusing the fetus she is carrying. Possible criminal charges include both misdemeanor and felony charges. For instance, if a pregnant woman gives birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome, child endangerment charges or child abuse charges could be filed against the woman. In addition, if a mother has a miscarriage or if a child is born and then dies, manslaughter charges could be filed.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If one is charged with fetal abuse, one should retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Frequently, fetal abuse related charges are felonious in nature and therefore carry significant penalties if one is found guilty. As a result, there are serious consequences involved in these crimes. An experienced attorney can evaluate one’s case and determine what options may exist. In addition, an attorney may be able to obtain a plea bargain, reduce the charges or possibly have the charges dismissed, depending upon the circumstances. Moreover, an attorney can help to navigate one through the criminal court system and answer any questions which may arise.