Infanticide

– section 6 of the Crimes Act 1958

Infanticide

Infanticide is when a mother murders her child, because she has not recovered from giving birth. Or because of a disorder she developed as a result of the child birth.

Examples of Infanticide
  • After not being able to sleep for weeks on end and being mentally unwell, a mother overdoses her child with a sleeping liquid.
  • A woman gave birth and developed post-natal depression. When her child was 3 months old, she smothered her child in its sleep.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Infanticide?
  • You were not responsible for the death of your child.
  • You suffer from mental impairment beyond a disorder from the child birth.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Do you know how your child died?
  • Do you suffer from a clinically diagnosed mental impairment?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 6 imprisonment (5 years).

This type of offence would be heard in the County Court.

“Do you suffer from a disorder?”
What is the legal definition of Infanticide?

The Prosecution must prove that you caused the death of your child, in circumstances that would have amounted to murder. And your mind at the time of the offence was disturbed by a mental disorder.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 6 of the Crimes Act 1958.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

Infanticide is a very serious offence. However, often the courts will not imprison the accused because of tragic factual circumstances.

 


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 6

(1) If a woman carries out conduct that causes the death of her child in circumstances that would constitute murder and, at the time of carrying out the conduct, the balance of her mind was disturbed because of—
(a) her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to that child within the preceding 2 years; or
(b) a disorder consequent on her giving birth to that child within the preceding 2 years—
she is guilty of infanticide, and not of murder, and liable to level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum).
(2) On an indictment for murder, a woman found not guilty of murder may be found guilty of infanticide.
(3) Nothing in this Act affects the power of the jury on a charge of murder of a child to return a verdict of not guilty because of mental impairment.