ABORTIONS; CONCEALING BIRTH
Abortions, concealing birth, is a serious crime in Nevada.
What is the legal definition of Abortions or concealing birth?
Abortions, and concealing birth is defined in NRS 201.120, 201.130, 201.140, and 201.150
NRS 201.120 – Abortion: Definition; penalty.
A person who:
- Prescribes, supplies or administers to a woman, whether pregnant or not, or advises or causes her to take any medication, drug or substance; or
- Uses or causes to be used, any instrument or other means,
- To terminate a pregnancy, unless done pursuant to the provisions of NRS 442.250, or by a woman upon herself upon the advice of a physician acting pursuant to the provisions of NRS 442.250, is guilty of abortion which is a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 10 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000.
NRS 201.130 – Selling drugs to produce miscarriage; penalty.
Every person who shall manufacture, sell or give away any instrument, drug, medicine or other substance, knowing or intending that the same may be unlawfully used in procuring the miscarriage of a woman, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
NRS 201.140 – Evidence.
In any prosecution for abortion, attempting abortion, or selling drugs unlawfully, no person shall be excused from testifying as a witness on the ground that the testimony would tend to incriminate him or her, but such testimony shall not be used against the person testifying in any criminal prosecution except for perjury in giving such testimony.
NRS 201.150 – Concealing birth; penalty.
Every person who shall endeavor to conceal the birth of a child by any disposition of its body, whether the child died before or after its birth, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
I thought abortion was legal in Nevada?
It is, but only so long as it is done by a licensed physician and in accordance with acceptable medical practices.
Is there anything else I should know?
Any abortion that is not the result of acceptable practices by a licensed physician is not legal. The statute is intentionally vague so that the prosecutor has the discretion of when to charge someone for an illegal abortion. However, there are generally two ways that someone can be charged:
- Prescribing, supplying or administering a medicine, drug or other substance that causes the termination of the pregnancy;
- Causing the termination of a pregnancy through other means.
The vagueness of this definition essentially means that anyone involved in an illegal abortion can be charged.
Please Note: The statute allows for everyone involved in the abortion to be charged. In other words, the woman seeking the illegal abortion as well as any other person who assists in the abortion can be charged under NRS 201.120.
What if the abortion is stopped before it happens, or it doesn’t work?
Even attempted abortions trigger NRS 201.120. Any woman attempting to obtain an illegal abortion, and anyone helping her in that attempt, can be charged under NRS 201.120.
What if I just sold drugs that could cause an abortion?
That mostly depends on your knowledge of the situation. Under NRS 201.130, making, selling, or giving away any drug or other substance that could cause the termination of a pregnancy is a crime only if you actually intend the substance to cause the termination of a pregnancy.
Please Note: The manufacture of controlled substances may be a crime according to other statutes. NRS 201.130 is generally used for the manufacture of illicit abortion drugs and the supplying of any drug with the knowledge that the drug will be used to cause an abortion.
What is the deal with the “concealing a birth” law?
Although not at all related to “abortion,” “concealing a birth” is defined in NRS 201.150 and relates to disposing of the body of a baby after its birth.
Abandoning a baby after it is born is a crime regardless of whether the baby was dead or alive at the time it was disposed of. Moreover, prosecutors can charge you for “concealing a birth” whether the baby dies or not. However, it is important to note that if the child does die as a result of the abandonment, then prosecutors may also charge you with any of the homicide crimes, depending on the specific circumstances. For a more detailed description of the homicide laws, please click here.
What are the possible penalties?
As is probably obvious, the penalty depends largely on what crime is being charged.
If you are being charged with violating NRS 201.120 for either having or assisting in an illegal abortion or the attempt to have an illegal abortion, then you will be charged as a category B felony, which includes a possible sentence of:
- Between 1 and 10 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- Possible fines up to $10,000.
If you are being charged with making, selling or giving away a substance for the purpose of inducing a miscarriage, then you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which carries with it a possible sentence of:
- Up to 364 days in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $2,000.
If you are being charged with concealing the birth of a baby, then you will be charged with a gross misdemeanor, which carries with it a possible sentence of:
- Up to 364 days in jail; and/or
- Possible fines up to $2,000.
Please Note: If there is evidence that you killed the baby before disposing of the body, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge with both concealing a birth and one of the various forms of homicide.
Are there any Defenses?
Yes, of course there are. Depending on the circumstances of your crime, some of the possible defenses may include:
- Entrapment – Undercover police officers are deployed to catch numerous crimes. However, the laws involving abortion and concealing a birth require that the person being charged had intended to either abort or dispose of the child, regardless of the interference of others. In other words, in order to prove the crime, the prosecutor must show that even if the undercover officer had not been involved, you would have sought to abort or dispose of the baby. If the prosecutor cannot prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
- Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
- Police Misconduct – ] The police are required to follow certain laws when investigating possible crimes. If the police do not follow these laws, often referred to as “search and seizure” laws, then any evidence they find may be thrown out as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This means that the prosecutor will not be able to use the evidence because it was obtained illegally. If there is not enough evidence to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Stalking?
As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.