KILLING AN UNBORN CHILD
Killing an unborn child is often referred to as “Feticide.” Feticide is a very difficult crime to define and understand because of its vagueness.
Nevada’s law against killing an unborn quick child.
Nevada Revised Statute 200.210 relates to the killing of an unborn child.
“A person who willfully kills an unborn quick child, by any injury committed upon the mother of the child, commits manslaughter and shall be punished for a category B felony 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.”
It is very important that you understand that NRS 200.210 applies to “injur[ies] committed upon the mother.” Feticide applies when someone injures a pregnant woman with the intent to kill the unborn fetus.
What is an unborn quick child?
This is the biggest issue with NRS 200.210; Nevada has never specifically defined what “an unborn quick child” is.
In general, other states define an “unborn quick child” as beginning either at the time that a mother can detect its movement, usually around the sixteenth to eighteenth week, or in the second trimester.
Please Note: Nevada courts are not required to abide by how other states define an “unborn quick child.”
Also Note: Nevada lawmakers have never determined about whether terminating a very young fetus, one still in the first trimester, creates criminal liability.
What if the mother does it to herself?
You may have noticed that NRS 200.210 does not specify that the injury be caused by someone else. A mother who does harm to herself in an attempt to kill their unborn child is still guilty of Feticide as defined in NRS 200.210.
But what about abortion?
Abortion is not covered by NRS 200.210. Obviously, legal abortion is not illegal under the definition of NRS 200.210 (It would be counter-intuitive for a statute to criminalize a legal act). Illegal abortion is also not covered by NRS 200.210, though. Logically, this is because abortion is an act specifically geared toward the fetus, where the mother may be injured incidentally rather than an act geared toward specifically harming the mother with the intent to also destroy the fetus.
Similarly, NRS 200.210 does not cover the selling or taking of abortive drugs, or the advertising of abortive services.
So then what does the statute apply to?
Generally speaking, feticide cases arise out of violent domestic disputes.
What are the penalties to feticide?
Feticide is a category B felony in Nevada, which carries with it a punishment of:
- Between one and ten years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- Possible fines up to $10,000.00.
Are there any defenses to feticide?
No Intent – As already noted, feticide only applies when intentionally harming a pregnant woman in order to destroy the fetus. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you intentionally harmed the pregnant woman and that the harm was intended to cause the death of the fetus, then the case should be dropped or dismissed.
What should I do if I’ve been charged with Killing an Unborn Quick Child?
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.