A Gap in the Criminal Justice System, Creating a New Class of Felons in Pregnant Drug-Addicted Women, a State-by-State Analysis
University of Mississippi - School of Law
March 4, 2014
Mississippi Law Journal Supra, Vol. 83, 2014
Increasingly across the United States pregnant women who seek help for drug addiction are finding themselves in a courtroom defending criminal charges instead of a doctor’s office or rehabilitation facility. Women are being criminally charged for being addicted to drugs, an offense not punishable by criminal law in any other circumstance than pregnancy. While these women are being charged after the birth of their child, the drug abuse occurred while they were pregnant. The history of reproductive rights and drug legislation and the history of pregnant women who are criminally prosecuted for the use of controlled substances will be addressed in Part I of this article. Part II of this article provides a broad analysis of how each state currently addresses the ever-prevalent prosecution of these women, including a chart with the relevant statutes and cases. Part III explains why the issue is deeper than due process rights and whether the legislatures intended for child or minor to include fetus or unborn child. Finally, Part IV discusses other possible options states should explore to put a stop to the creation of a new class of felons.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: criminal law, reproductive rights, drug addiction, drug abuse, pregnancy, child abuse, due process, delivery of controlled substance to minor, fetus, unborn child
Date posted: March 25, 2014