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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Killing of Fetus, Infant, or Pregnant Woman

Killing of Fetus, Infant, or Pregnant Woman


A pregnant Richmond woman was found dead in her home recently after being stabbed to death. She suffered stabbing wounds to her neck, which was the cause of death, as reported by NBC 12 News. A 23-year-old man, who the victim used to be in a relationship with, was arrested and charged with robbery, breaking and entering, and first degree murder. She was seven months pregnant at the time of her death. While the killing was allegedly premeditated in this case, non-premeditated murder of a pregnant woman carries special penalties when it can be proven that the defendant knew the victim was pregnant.

Deliberate, Spur of the Moment Killing of Pregnant Woman

According to Virginia statute § 18.2-32.1, the willful, deliberate, and non-premeditated killing of a pregnant woman carries a punishment of 10 to 40 years when the defendant knows that the woman was pregnant and the intent was to cause an involuntary termination of the pregnancy.

Unlawful Termination of Fetus, Killing the Fetus of Another

In 2006, a Virginia woman shot herself in the abdomen to end her pregnancy. Her boyfriend refused to pay for an abortion and she, already a mother of two, could not afford it herself and could not afford to have another child. With no other options, she carried the pregnancy to term and, on the morning that she was due to give birth, pulled into a parking lot and shot herself. She was charged with carrying out an illegal abortion, according to ABC News. It is a Class 4 felony to administer to or cause to take a drug or other thing, or use means to cause the destruction of an unborn child, abortion, or a miscarriage, according to Virginia statute § 18.2-71. A Class 4 felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000. Additionally, in Virginia, it is a Class 2 felony to unlawfully, willfully, deliberately, maliciously kill, with premeditation, the fetus of another. The penalty under this statute is five to 40 years in prison, as pursuant to Virginia § 18.2-32.2. The fact that an umbilical cord has not been severed or that placenta is still attached to an infant is not used to determine whether or not the baby has achieved independent existence. This means that a defendant could be charged with capital degree murder for terminating the life of a newborn infant even if the umbilical cord or placenta is still attached. Capital murder, which is charged when the victim was younger than the age of 14 and the defendant is older than 21, is a much harsher penalty than a Class 2 felony, and carries the potential for the death sentence in Virginia.

Call for Legal Help Today

Whether you have been charged with carrying out an illegal abortion, first or second degree murder, the killing of a fetus, or capital murder, it is of the utmost importance that you seek legal help immediately. Contact the Leesburg, Fairfax, Winchester, or Manassas criminal defense attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP.



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